Historically, mothers were seen as the homemakers and caregivers, while fathers were viewed as the breadwinners. This trope carried on as recently as just a generation or two ago, when many women stayed home to raise the children and men pursued careers. The times are changing, though. Nowadays most households in Texas and around the country are of the two-income variety, with both mom and dad working to bring home the proverbial bacon.
Just as family working lives look different than they did in the past, divorce and custody (in Texas custody is known as “conservatorship”) determinations have likewise changed. Whereas before there was a presumption that mothers should take the primary parenting role following a split, that has been replaced by a “best interests of the child” standard.
How Texas views custody
Texas law presumes that both parents will be named as joint conservators in the event of a divorce (absent a showing of family violence or the absence of one parent). This doesn’t mean that the parents will spend equal time with the children, only that they will each have a say in the important decisions regarding a child’s upbringing.
Oftentimes parents, working in concert with their attorneys, can make a conservatorship decision on their own. This plan is then presented to the court for approval. In other instances, the court must determine custody instead.
No matter if the parents make the decision themselves or if a court has to step in, custody of the children is often the most highly-contested part of a divorce proceeding. It is important that each parent understands his or her parental rights and how those rights are protected while still keeping the best interests of the children paramount.