In Texas, parental rights have been in the news recently because of a bill, introduced in February 2017, which could change the way child custody cases work. According to WFAA, if passed, Texas House Bill 453 could change the way custody battles are determined in divorces across the state. The term “fathers’ rights” typically refers to several relevant areas in family law, including paternity, child support and child custody, and advocates for HB 453 say that the law will give fathers equal footing in cases relating to child custody disagreements.
As the laws currently stand, nearly any custody arrangement a couple is able to agree on outside of family court will be approved by a judge. However, if a couple is unable to find terms amenable to both parties, a judge determines the custody schedule. The new bill, if made into law, would automatically split custody evenly between the mother and the father, although the bill does not specify how the split should occur.
According to KHOU, supporters of the bill, including the group Americans for Parental Equality, believe mothers are favored in custody battles. In order to afford fathers equal rights to their children, they believe changing the law to ensure equal time between both parents and their children will allow for more bonding time between children and their fathers. Preserving the relationship between both parents in a divorce is of the utmost importance, and supporters believe HB 453 is a path to furthering fathers’ rights in divorce proceedings. However, unless and until the law is changed, custody must still be worked out between the couple or determined by a family court judge.