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Can unmarried fathers receive custody rights in Texas?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2022 | Family Law

Raising a child is more than a full-time job. It also requires a lot of money and patience. Being a father isn’t just about giving your child some of your genes or your last name. It is also about helping them grow into a healthy adult and being there for them throughout their life.

When parents divorce, the father can ask for shared custody so that they have parenting time with the children and possibly a say in the big decisions about their lives. Unmarried fathers are in a left legally insecure position when it comes to getting time with their children.

Do you have the right to ask for custody if you never marry the mother of your child? 

Marriage is not a prerequisite for fatherhood

You don’t have to marry a woman to impregnate her, and you don’t have to wear a ring to have rights as a father. However, you do have to prove that you have a parental relationship with a child.

Some fathers will already have taken this step during their relationship with the mother or immediately after the birth of their child. If you are not already listed as the father on the birth certificate for your child, then you may need to establish paternity in accordance with the law before you can ask for shared custody.

If the mother of your child acknowledges you, you can fill out a paper quickly and easily that will add you to the birth certificate. If the mother of your child will not cooperate in this process, then you will likely need to involve the Texas family courts.

You, the mother and the child can all undergo non-invasive genetic testing that will then either validate or disprove your claims to paternity. Once the state of Texas recognizes you as the father, you will be able to ask for parenting time.

Marital status doesn’t affect parenting rights

The fact that you never married the mother of your child will have zero impact on the custody decisions in your case. A judge needs to look at what would be best for the child. An actively involved father is important to a child’s social and emotional development, so a judge will likely agree that granting you parenting time is the right choice.

Knowing the rights that fathers have under Texas law can help you protect the relationship you have with your child.