Although the custody laws in Texas are gender-neutral, referring neither to man and woman nor to father and mother, many parents still think there is a specific gender bias in favor of the mother during custody proceedings.
While the law is quite clear that a judge should focus on what is best for the kids, some people will insist that a judge will give the mother preferential consideration over the father. Some men even let this idea deter them from seeking shared custody or fighting back when a mother denies access.
Where does this belief spring from, and why does it persist despite directly contradicting state law?
The concept of a gender bias stems from the tender years’ doctrine
A judge trying to decide what is best for children in a custody dispute has to look at everything from a parent’s living situation to their relationship with the children. The tender years’ doctrine was a child development theory that applied to many custody cases in decades past.
Judges would assume that children too young to attend school typically needed constant involvement with their mother (or a paid surrogate, like a nanny) to develop their primary attachment. The result was that many fathers received visitation or far less parenting time than mothers did.
In modern divorces, the tender years’ doctrine no longer applies. A judge will assume that parents can share custody even of an infant. Learning the laws about child custody in Texas can help you fight for your parental rights during a divorce or the end of your relationship with the other parent of your children.