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3 Things Every Unmarried Father in Texas Should Know

 Posted on May 16, 2024 in Fathers Rights

Fort Worth, TX fathers' rights attorneyFathers in Texas have certain rights under the law called fathers’ rights. Fighting for those rights, however, can be an uphill battle. This is especially true for unmarried fathers. A single man who has a child, for example, does not automatically get to have physical custody of the child or decide how that child is raised. He cannot take the child on vacation or visit the child without the mother’s consent. He does not have a right to his child’s medical and academic records.

The best way for fathers in Texas to know and secure their rights is with the help of a qualified fathers’ rights attorney

Here are three things every unmarried father in Texas should know.

How to Establish Paternity

In Texas, you are automatically assumed to be the father if a child is born within 300 days after your marriage with the child’s mother ends. Otherwise, to have any rights to your child, you need to first be recognized as the father by the state. This is called establishing paternity. There are a few ways to do this:

  • You and the mother can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). This is a legal document in which you both declare that you are the father. 

  • You and the mother can get an Agreed Paternity Order from a court which establishes you as the father. It also grants you rights and responsibilities such as custody, visitation, child support, and medical support.

  • If the mother refuses to do either of the above, you can get court-ordered paternity. This is a court order that establishes you as the father and grants you certain legal rights and responsibilities. You will likely be subjected to a DNA test to prove that you are the father.

Courts Prefer Joint Custody

By default, Texas law prefers that children have equal parenting time — also known as physical custody — with both parents. Courts recognize the importance of both parents being present in the child’s life and will consider a joint custody option first. A judge will award the majority of parenting time to the mother only if the judge feels that it is not in your child’s best interest to spend more time with you.

Mothers and Fathers Have Equal Rights

Texas law no longer assumes that mothers are more competent when it comes to caring for a child. Fathers and mothers have equal rights to their children in Texas by default. Therefore, once you establish paternity, you have a legal right to equal custody of your child, equal parenting time, equal access to his or her medical and academic records, and an equal right to make decisions for the child.

Contact a Fort Worth, TX Father’s Rights Lawyer

Establishing paternity and defending fathers’ rights requires careful attention to legal processes, especially if the mother is not cooperative. Make sure your rights are secure by consulting an experienced Fort Worth, Texas fathers’ rights attorney. Entrusting your case to The Law Office of J. Kevin Clark P.C. gives your rights as a father the strongest defense possible. Call 817-348-6723 for a free consultation today.

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