Another Father’s Day has come and gone, and in a perfect world, every dad would have spent the day with his kids. But this is far from a perfect world, and too often fathers and grandfathers are pushed out of their children or grandchildren’s lives through parental alienation, distance, financial problems or other custody issues.
The truth is that unless a father has been specifically prohibited from contact with his child, that dad has rights as a parent that sometimes have to be defended in court. We see this more and more now, as divorced moms move across the country or make it otherwise difficult for a father to have consistent visitation with his own children.
First, let’s talk about the legal definition of a parent in Texas. A parent is defined as the mother, a man presumed to be the father, a man legally determined to be the father, a man who has been adjudicated to be the father by a court of competent jurisdiction, a man who acknowledged his paternity under applicable law or an adoptive mother or father.
Further, Texas Family Code § 151.001 stipulates what rights a parent has:
(1) the right to have physical possession, to direct the moral and religious training, and to designate the residence of the child;
(2) the duty of care, control, protection, and reasonable discipline of the child;
(3) the duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, medical and dental care, and education;
(4) the duty, except when a guardian of the child’s estate has been appointed, to manage the estate of the child, including the right as an agent of the child to act in relation to the child’s estate if the child’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government;
(5) except as provided by Section 264.0111, the right to the services and earnings of the child;
(6) the right to consent to the child’s marriage, enlistment in the armed forces of the United States, medical and dental care, and psychiatric, psychological, and surgical treatment;
(7) the right to represent the child in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the child;
(8) the right to receive and give receipt for payments for the support of the child and to hold or disburse funds for the benefit of the child;
(9) the right to inherit from and through the child;
(10) the right to make decisions concerning the child’s education; and
(11) any other right or duty existing between a parent and child by virtue of law.
Because divorce is often acrimonious, it’s common to see one parent use the children against the other or alienate the children from their noncustodial parent. Also common is forced alienation from the noncustodial parent’s parents – the child’s grandparents.
It’s often useless to appeal to an angry custodial mother to put her children’s needs first and not deprive them of a relationship with their blood relatives out of bitterness. Unfortunately, most fathers and grandfathers have little recourse other than litigation.
If it’s come to that for you, take heart. We will fight passionately for your rights as a father or grandfather. Texas’ parental laws apply to everyone, not just custodial parents, and it’s our mission to make sure children don’t pay the price in an oppositional divorce.
Don’t spend another Father’s Day without being able to see your children. Call Hill & Hill Attorneys at Law at 866-369-2889 and let’s talk about your rights as a dad.