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Texas dads seek equal footing in child custody

It's just a two-hour drive west of College Station to Austin. Some local fathers might make the trip to the Texas capital in coming days to try to persuade state legislators to get behind House Bill 453.

Proponents of the legislative proposal say that if enacted, it would give divorcing Texas dads an equal footing in child custody matters. Right now, they say, the law favors divorcing moms. Those in favor of the bill say it would require courts to begin divorce proceedings with the assumption that parents will divide child custody evenly.

"When you go through a divorce, you split everything down the middle. Why is it when you have a child, you can't split custody and time with that child?" asked Noel Geren, a 37-year-old father who spoke with a TV station in south Texas. He said he has spent more than $80,000 over the past four years trying to get more time with his 10-year-old son.

The Corpus Christi station says that "more often, mothers win custody which leaves fathers only with visitation."

Former Dallas County associate judge Marilea Lewis told the station that she thinks the proposal indicates that some fathers do not believe they are "being heard by the court." Lewis said many people assume that Texas family law favors mothers in divorce, "but I don’t really believe that to be the case."

She said the proposed law would strip judges of needed discretion in custody battles.

Two years ago, a similar proposal did not make it through the legislature.

Anyone facing disagreements and disputes over child custody in divorce or after a divorce can speak with a College Station family law attorney experienced in protecting children and parental rights.

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