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What you need to know about a father’s right to child custody


Family law judges have always had the responsibility to make difficult custody decisions. Many judges used to buy into the research showing that children fared the best when they spent most of their time with their mothers and awarded dads only limited visitation.

Now, however, psychologists understand that kids need both their parents involved in their lives. This shift in perspective has led judges to award an increasing number of dads joint or primary custody in recent years. 

How do unmarried dads request custody of their kids?

A father doesn’t need to be married to their child’s mother to qualify for custody. While the law automatically bestows parental rights upon married parents when a child is born, single dads must first establish their paternity before a judge will allow them to exercise their parental right to custody.

Dads can establish paternity by either signing their child’s birth certificate or through genetic (DNA) testing. A judge will also expect fathers to show that they have an ongoing relationship with their child to consider awarding them custody. Dads who have newly entered their son or daughter’s life may need to start with visitation before petitioning a judge for broader custody rights. 

What different types of custodial arrangements exist?

Physical custody of a child is usually either granted to one parent alone or shared between co-parents.

Children with parents with a joint custodial agreement in place generally spend a portion of their time living at one parent’s home and the remainder at the other’s. Even when one parent has sole physical custody of a child, however, the other parent may have visitation rights.

What factors may motivate a judge to approve a modification of an existing custody order?

Family law judges generally try to avoid removing a parent’s custodial rights completely. They’re often reluctant to change existing custody orders without a good reason. However, when a child’s mental or physical health is suffering under a parent’s care or one parent is unwilling to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, that may be reason enough to modify things. 

A fathers’ rights attorney can help you build an argument for why the Texas judge presiding over your San Marcos custody matter should award you increased custody. Talk your situation over with someone as soon as possible so that you can begin to strategize.

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