Setting The Record Straight On Your Rights As A Man Going Through Divorce

Going through a divorce as a man and a father can often feel like fighting an uphill battle. Men face unique and sometimes even unfair challenges in the family courtroom that women don’t. It isn’t uncommon for men to feel intimidated at the thought of filing for divorce in the first place due to the abundance of experiences they’ve heard of other men who were ordered to pay exorbitant amounts of alimony or child support, or even be denied the right to see their children and be an active presence in their lives. In this blog, we’ll be discussing some of the history behind the often biased treatment of men in family courts, as well as setting the record straight on some of the most common misconceptions when it comes to a man’s rights in divorce.

Why Does Gender Bias Exist In The Family Courtroom? 

In generations past, custody cases in the United States mostly operated under what is called a “tender years” presumption, and Texas was no different. The tender years presumption (sometimes referred to as the tender years doctrine) originated around 1881 and essentially argued that during a child’s “tender years,” or up to age 4, they needed their mother more than they needed their father. Due to this antiquated assumption, family courts have been known to favor women over men in divorce and custody cases.

As the United States moved into the age of gender equality, this oppression of fathers eased, but unfortunately, some of it still lingers today despite what scientific data on fatherless children reveals. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, children with absent fathers are more likely to live in poverty, have behavioral problems, commit crimes, go to prison, and more. On the other hand, children will active fathers show a better performance in school and are much less likely to commit crimes, be incarcerated as juveniles, and commit suicide.

Even if you don’t have children, you still may be subject to discrimination in your divorce simply because of your gender. Because men have historically been the breadwinners of the family, many have been forced to pay excessive amounts in spousal maintenance (alimony). But what happens if the roles are reversed? Would a man receive equal treatment if he had been the one tending the home or looking after the children while his wife worked?

Whether you have children or not, you have rights that cannot and should not be infringed upon as you go through your divorce. Here are the most important to keep in mind:

You Have A Right To Initiate The Divorce

The state of Texas recognizes both no-fault and fault-based divorces. A no-fault divorce means that the marriage has simply become impossible to maintain due to conflict or discord, while a fault-based divorce means that one party is at fault for the ending of the marriage due to adultery, abandonment, abuse, domestic violence, or something else. You have the right to seek a capable divorce attorney and file for either of these types of divorces.

Following your initial petition, your spouse has only a certain amount of time to file an answer or counter-petition. If they do not, they risk losing their right to make arguments regarding their preference for property division, spousal support, and custody arrangements. Likewise, if you are the one being served with divorce papers, you have the right to make arguments regarding these issues (to be touched more on later). You and your spouse may even agree to engage in mediation to avoid further conflict and come to reasonable resolutions, especially if you want the experience to remain as amicable as possible for your children.

In short, you shouldn’t be fearful of being the catalyst in your divorce just because you are a man. You deserve to be able to leave an unfulfilling relationship just as much as anyone else. It is your right to take legal action and seek a better path forward for you and your family.

You Have A Right To Seek Primary Custody

The days of the tender years doctrine have long gone. Research shows that children flourish best with both parents in their lives. However, their best interests have to come first. As their father, you have a right to seek primary or full custody of your children. To have a chance at succeeding, though, you’ll want to make sure your parenting record is stellar. Now, especially, is not the time to prioritize your new job, new girlfriend, or newfound free-time over your children. You should be sure you are keeping a record of which parent is handling the majority of the responsibilities, especially if it’s you. Keep being the awesome dad you are!

You Have A Right To Remain In The Family Home

It is a common misconception that one partner must leave the shared home upon divorce proceedings. Not only is this not true, but it can be detrimental to your case if you are seeking primary custody of your children. By voluntarily leaving the home, you are essentially granting primary custody to your wife and removing yourself as a consistent figure in your children’s lives. Don’t risk a judge using your own actions against you!

You are not required to move out of your shared home. However, if you are experiencing abuse or domestic violence, you should alert law enforcement and relocate – especially if your kids are in danger. Be sure to keep any and all evidence of this.

If it is simply uncomfortable to continue living with your spouse, try moving to a different room of the house. This is the best way to protect your rights as a father when it comes to custody or visitation aspects of the divorce.

Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC Fights For The Rights Of Men And Fathers Going Through Divorce

At our firm, what matters most to you, matters to us. We are a dedicated team of attorneys who seek fair outcomes in divorce cases of all complexities. If you are a man feeling uncertain of your rights as you undergo divorce, give us a call! We will have an in-depth look at your current situation and review all of your legal options in a free case evaluation. You deserve to build a life you are proud of!

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