Typically the rights and duties of a parent are outlined in Chapter 151 of the Family Code. Those rights include
(a) A parent of a child has the following rights and duties:
(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.
In a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship the court will allocate the rights and duties between the parents. Typically many of the rights a parent has at all times, such as the right to receive information from teachers or doctors. Some of those rights a parent only has when they have possession of the child such the right to direct religious or moral training of the child.
Lastly there are some rights that are exclusive to one parent. These are generally going to be the right to make educational decisions, serious medical decisions or to designate where the child lives. Often parents want all of the decisions to be equal. As a practical matter this won’t work.
What happens if your child gets ill and the doctor recommends the child have a tonsillectomy or tubes in their ears and one parent agrees and the other doesn’t? Who makes these decisions? We can require the “primary parent” to have meaningful consultation with the non-primary parent before making the educational or medical decision; thereby protecting the rights of the non-primary parent by allowing that parent to stay involved in the decision process.
It’s not a perfect system, but until all married couples with children never divorce, the rights and duties have to be allocated. If you find yourself in need of an attorney to help you with your divorce, or Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship, give us a call.