What are an unmarried father’s child custody rights in Texas?

 Woods, May and Matlock ,P.C

When you live together with a partner and she becomes pregnant with your child while you’re unmarried, you don’t really have any legal rights as a parent in Texas. The mother of the child is viewed as the sole guardian, has full rights to determine how she wants to raise her child and who she will allow to spend time with the child. If you’re in this situation as a parent and want to have rights to seeing and raising your child, there is hope, but you need to get legal help and act quickly. The firm of Woods & Matlock has experience in a variety of cases where an unmarried father seeks to gain parental rights. Here are some of the most common questions we’ve heard in these situations and some answers to give you an idea.

What if your name is listed as the father on the birth certificate?

Under Texas law, the mother has full conservatorship over the child’s well-being. That means she has decision-making power on whether or not the father can visit the child or offer care. Even if your name is listed on the birth certificate as the father, the mother still has the rights to decide if the child will spend time with your extended family and relatives.

Why are unmarried couples having more issues around custody and guardianship?

More and more couples are waiting to get married later in life or not marrying at all. Whether a child’s birth is planned or unplanned, it gets frustrating to not have a say on the child’s well-being when you’re not recognized as a guardian. The number of children being born to unmarried parents is on the rise, making this custody issue a more common problem today that the courts must address.

What if we had the child in another state?

After 60 days of living in the state, Texas laws will apply to the child’s custody.

Woods, May and Matlock ,P.C

I want to have parental rights, what should I do?

If you’re an unmarried father in Texas, it’s crucial you speak to a lawyer who specializes in family law in Allen, TX right away to make a case to the court. An unmarried mother can move out of state at any time without notification. Even if you have regular parenting and visiting time with the child, the mother can change your access or deny it completely. It’s important to establish your parental rights quickly with the court by having a judge issue a finding of paternity.

What does a finding of paternity grant me?

When a judge issues a finding of paternity, even though your child was born while you were unmarried, you gain essentially the same rights as a divorced parent. These are known as conservator rights in Texas. They include medical decisions, educational choices, having a say on extracurricular activities for the child, visitation rights, and can also include custody.
As a parent in this situation, if you want to play an active role in your child’s life and guarantee your part in it, you really need to get legal advice fast. Woods & Matlock are the legal team you need to call when you’re looking for a lawyer who specializes in family law in Allen, TX. Call us today for a brief free phone consultation at 972-972-8820.