If you are a male in Texas who is not married to the birth mother of a child, you may confront legal hurdles in your attempt to establish rights related to child custody, child visitation or other family law issues. This is because there are some legal presumptions for women under Texas law, which do not exist for males. As a result, a man attempting to assert or contest parenting privileges or responsibilities must play an active role in either process.
A legal parent in Texas has rights related to childrearing. When a child is born to married parents, Texas law presumes that the mother and father are both the biological and legal guardians of the child. On the other hand, when a child is born to a mother who is not married, the law is slightly different.
If a man is not married to the child’s mother, he must actively establish paternity to be deemed the legal father. One way to do this is through an Acknowledgement of Paternity document. If the mother concedes that the particular man is her child’s father, the two parents can voluntarily sign the legal document, which creates rights for the man.
However, if a mother and male disagree about legal paternity, the disputants can go to family law court and resolve the issue. A family law court will order a genetic test to determine whether the male in question is the biological father. If a test confirms that a particular male is the biological father, such finding can help grant the male childrearing privileges.
Once a male is deemed the legal father, he may pursue custody of his child. Texas family law courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child. This involves an examination of factors that include the overall physical, emotional and mental fitness of each parent and the child. This assessment also considers the parents’ financial wellbeing. Ultimately, courts should award custody to a parent with a strong and supportive environment for the child.
Texas courts also routinely issue parenting plans (often called “possession schedules”), which serve to ensure that fathers have the opportunity to develop or maintain a close relationship with his child. This is presumed to be in the child’s best interests.
These are just a few matters that are associated with the establishment of paternity in Texas. If you plan to assert or contest your rights as legal father, it may help to meet with an experienced family law attorney. Family law can be very complicated, and working with a qualified lawyer can improve your chances of reaching the appropriate arrangement for your child’s future.