When there is a divorce or a child custody dispute between parents who were never married to each other, what rights do fathers have in Texas? It’s an important question. Children need to experience a healthy relationship with their father. Sometimes, the other parent is angry about the relationship not working out. Because they’re upset, they take certain actions that could be detrimental to the father-child relationship. As a father, it is important that you understand your parental rights. If you’re a dad and you believe that your rights have been violated or ignored, call the Law Office of Julie Johnson at 214-290-8001. The first consultation is free.
Unmarried Fathers in Texas
First, let’s discuss how Texas law treats unmarried fathers. “Unmarried” doesn’t mean that you divorced the other parent. It doesn’t mean that you’re separated from the other parent. It means that you and the other parent were never married. You may have lived together, but you did not go through the legal process of getting married.
If you were never married to the other parent, you have very few legal rights even if you signed the birth certificate. You may very well be the presumed father because your name is listed. You may have promised to pay child support. You may have lived under the same roof with the child for the first two years of their life. However, unless you go through the process of establishing paternity by completing a DNA test or completing a signed acknowledgement of paternity, you have very few rights.
Once you’ve gone through the process of establishing legal paternity, it’s important to work with a Texas father’s rights attorney to help you obtain a child custody and visitation order. Child custody depends on several factors, but having an order that, at the very least, provides you with visitation can make it much easier for you to establish and maintain a relationship with your child.
Fathers Divorced or Divorcing the Other Parent in Texas
Fathers who are divorcing or who divorced the other parent of their child in Texas already have certain legal rights. These legal rights exist because you were married. However, it is still important for the court to address child custody and child support. Having these orders or a divorce settlement agreement that includes this information and that is approved by a judge is very helpful when it comes to enforcing father’s rights.
What Rights Are Available to Fathers in Texas?
Now that we’ve discussed some of the differences between unmarried and married fathers, let’s look at the actual rights of fathers. Remember, the court plays an important part in determining paternity, custody, and visitation. Depending on the custody agreement or order, the child may live primarily with one parent and visit the other on a regular or liberal basis or the child may split equal time between the parents (joint custody). Of course, those are only two of the custody options in Texas. There are others, but those two are the ones most commonly used. Even if the child primarily lives with one parent and visits the other, both parents may have the legal right to make decisions related to the child. The court order may even state that the parents must discuss important decisions. Those decisions may include:
- Recreational activities
- School and sporting events
- Healthcare decisions (including mental health and dental)
- Matters related to religious or moral upbringing
Fathers may also have the right to speak with teachers, principals, counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, and therapists. They may also have the right to request and receive copies of records related to their child.
Getting Help with Father’s Rights in Texas
Breaking up is hard regardless of whether there was a marriage. If you need to establish or enforce your father’s rights in Texas, call the Law Office of Julie Johnson now at 214-290-8001. We’ve spent more than 20 years helping fathers establish and protect their legal rights. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, call us now to schedule your free consultation.