Do Unmarried Fathers Have Rights in TX?
When married spouses have a child together, both parents automatically receive the full range of parental rights and responsibilities set out by Texas law. This includes the right to spend time with your child and be involved in their lives, as well as the responsibility to provide financial support. However, what happens when parents are not married? Do fathers have the same rights as married fathers?
Unmarried fathers deserve the same rights as married fathers. However, there might be extra steps for unmarried fathers to assert those rights, as it is necessary to legally establish paternity. When a woman delivers a baby, she is clearly presumed to be the mother of the child, and her spouse is presumed to be the biological father. However, if a mother is not married, paternity is not automatically established.
Establishing paternity is critical since fathers do not have parental rights without doing so. There are different ways to establish paternity in Texas:
Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP)
This is a voluntary acknowledgment by both parents that an unmarried man is the biological father of a child. You must work with an entity certified by the Office of the Attorney General in Texas in order to successfully complete and file an AOP. Once the form is accepted, you can take the necessary steps to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. Executing an AOP will establish paternity. However, it will not automatically give the father any legal rights and duties or address any conservatorship, possession and access issues, or any child support issues. It will still be necessary to petition the court to ensure all legal rights and duties.
There may be cases in which a mother denies the paternity of an unmarried man or, perhaps, they are unsure of who is the child’s father. If one or both of the parents challenge or is uncertain about paternity, the parent asserting paternity will need to file a petition with the court for a paternity order. Courts often require a DNA test, and based on the results, will grant or deny a paternity order.
Rights of Fathers in Texas
Once an unmarried father legally establishes paternity, the next step is to ensure that they exercise their legal rights as a parent. Courts overseeing the paternity case should also then oversee the following determinations:
- How the parents will share conservatorship rights of the child
- How the parents will divide possession and access of the child
- Whether one parent will need to pay child support to the other
Conservatorship and possession decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child, and the court can consider many factors when determining how parents will divide these rights. Parents can also agree on a conservatorship arrangement and parenting plan details if they are able to, which is often easier with the help of a trusted attorney.
Contact a Tarrant County Father’s Rights Attorney
At Hoppes Law Firm, we stand up for the rights of unmarried fathers in Texas and help them build a relationship with their child, beginning with the legal paternity process. Call 817-283-3999 or contact us online to learn more about this process and your options today.