Determining child custody can be complicated, and when parents are unmarried, establishing parental rights can make custody, visitation, and child support challenging. Working with an experienced family law lawyer can help protect your parental rights relating to child custody and help you navigate the legal process. If a child’s parents are unmarried, custody is automatically awarded to the mother in Texas. Conversely, an unmarried father has extremely limited parental rights even if his name is on the birth certificate. The family law legal team at Moffett Law Firm has over 30 years of combined legal experience and understands how to handle the most complex child custody matters. If you’re an unmarried parent, we can help guide you through important legal matters while protecting your interests as well as your child’s.
What to Expect in a Child Custody Determination if You Are UnmarriedAccording to the US Census, over 23% of US children reside with an unmarried parent as of 2023. According to Texas law, a father seeking child custody must first establish his paternity to the child. In such cases, you should speak with an experienced family law lawyer at the Moffett Law Firm for specific steps to ensure your parental rights are protected.
What Should an Unmarried Father Do to Gain Custody of his Child?For an unmarried father to gain custody of his child, he must establish paternity in one of the following ways:
- Sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity: An AOP is a legal document that must be signed by both parents stating that the man is the child’s genetic father. This may be a simpler route to establish paternity in cases where both parents agree on the father’s identity.
- DNA testing: In a paternity lawsuit or a Suit to Adjudicate Parentage, the man alleging to be the father must take a DNA test. The mother and child will also be required to take a test. The father claiming paternity will need a court order to get a mother who does not consent to the test to comply.
- Litigation: A father can establish his paternity by filing a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage where he asserts his paternity to his child and asks the court to name him a conservator so he can make important decisions for his child’s education, major medical and dental decisions, psychological or psychiatric decisions and religious upbringing,