There is very little difference between a traditional marriage and a common law marriage in Texas. Therefore, when a couple who the law considers to be in a common law marriage decides to separate, the court handles things like child custody the same as in a traditional marriage divorce.
Both Parents Have a Right to Custody of the Children
If the parents of the child presented as husband and wife and lived together when the children were born and raised, it is typical that both parents will have equal rights to custody and visitation. Just as if the parents were legally married, they must go through the divorce process, which includes making a child custody agreement.
As with any child custody agreement, the child’s best interests are the top priority. Therefore, if one parent can provide a more favorable and stable living situation, the court will typically award that parent primary custody. The non-custodial parent should still have the right to partial custody or at least visitation except in situations where the court believes that parent could be a threat to the child’s well-being.
Protecting Your Rights with a Legal Child Custody Agreement
It is a common mistake to think that because you are not legally married, you do not have to create any sort of official custody agreement for your children. Neglecting to do this could become troublesome in the future if your ex-partner decides to prevent you from seeing your children or makes any other kind of unfavorable decisions in your child’s upbringing.
In order to ensure you protect your parental rights and uphold your child’s best interests, it is best to take your separation to Texas family court and have the court create an official child custody agreement and put it on record. A Dallas child custody attorney can help you negotiate an acceptable custody arrangement that gives both parents their rightful time with the children and keeps each child’s best interests as top priority.
Having an official parenting plan and custody agreement on record with the court can help protect you in the future if your former partner changes their mind on how you agree to co-parent. These legal arrangements can also provide for child support when applicable, just as in a normal divorce.
Do Not Leave Your Child Custody Situation Up to Chance
Child custody agreements give you legal recourse to question and challenge any decisions the other parent makes when she has custody of your child. Failing to get a legally binding child custody agreement will make it difficult to take legal action against the child’s other parent if the need arises.
The Texas Divorce Lawyer helps Dallas families create mutually agreed upon child custody arrangements through mediation or court orders. Contact us today at 214-265-7630 to schedule a free consultation regarding your common law marriage divorce case.