What Rights Do Unmarried Fathers in Texas Have?

Fathers' Rights

Most parents in Dallas enjoy taking their children to see the sights of the city, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Perot Museum, or Reunion Tower. But what if you are an unmarried father and still need to establish your parental rights?

After divorce, both parents have a right to see their children according to the visitation schedule and other issues the family court decides in a written Final Decree of Divorce.

However, if the couple was unmarried and ended their relationship, the father must legally prove they are his children. Until he does, the father functionally has no parental rights, including child visitation. This means the mother is the child’s only parent, legally speaking. If you are an unmarried father and need to establish paternity to see your children, contact a Texas fathers’ rights lawyer in Dallas today.

Establishing Paternity – Voluntary Acknowledgement

The Texas Uniform Parentage Act provides one easy way to establish that you are a child’s father: by effectively acknowledging paternity, following the appropriate procedures, and executing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (“AOP”).

This is a process by which unmarried parents can establish paternity for their children, essentially by agreement. Often, the AOP form and other documents related to this option are provided by a hospital around the time of the child’s birth.

A voluntary AOP needs to be signed by both the mother and father. The document must be filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit, something which is also handled by many hospitals around the time of the child’s birth.

Adjudication Of Paternity

While some situations are easy, parents do not always agree on a child’s parentage. This may happen if the father questions the paternity of the child. In other cases, the mother may question paternity or not want the child to see their father.

If any of these or other disagreements arise, you can generally open a child support case with the Texas Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) by making a formal application for services Upon that process beginning, if agreements still cannot be reached, the matter would ultimately go before a judge. This judge, often a designated Title IV-D Associate Judge, will hear evidence from the mother and father to decide paternity. This will almost always involve a paternity test having been done on the child, the father, and the mother.

Little is “easy” when the Courts are involved, and there are certainly other steps in this process. Because it can get complicated and overwhelming, both practical and legal, it is beneficial to be represented in court by a Texas fathers’ rights lawyer.

What Are Your Rights As The Legal Father?

After establishing paternity, you have the same rights to the child that you would if you had been married to the child’s mother. Your rights include:

  • Visitation rights, based on a schedule established by the court’
  • An apportionment of rights in decisions involving education, healthcare, religious upbringing, etc
  • The right to travel with the child
  • The right to file for sole custody if the mother is unfit
  • a possible name change of the child, among others.

Establishing paternity allows you to develop closer emotional bonds with your children. Plus, the child can later access your health insurance and medical records and learn about their family history. Also, establishing paternity allows the child to receive an inheritance from both parents, should the worst happen. This can even include Social Security and Veteran’s benefits under certain circumstances.

Contact Texas Fathers’ Rights Lawyers Now

If you are a father in Dallas and are not married, you may think you do not have legal rights to your children. However, you still have rights and should talk to an attorney about establishing paternity today.

The Texas fathers’ rights lawyers at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson can assist you with establishing paternity, so you can exercise your parental rights. Our attorneys serve the cities of Dallas, Frisco, and San Antonio. Please contact our Texas fathers’ rights lawyers at (214) 273-2400.