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Can you get custody rights as an unmarried father in Texas?

Marriage offers legal protection to both spouses. Fathers or men who want to become fathers benefit from marriage because it leads to a presumption of paternity

Married men whose wives have babies are the presumptive father of the child. They don’t need to prove their relationship. They automatically have their names included on the birth certificate and have full parental rights if they get divorced later. 

As someone who never made a permanent commitment to the mother of your children, you may worry about what rights you have regarding access to and time with your child. Can you get shared custody or at least visitation as an unmarried father? 

You have parental rights once you establish paternity

The custody laws in Texas give equal consideration to both parents. However, you will have to establish your relationship with the child first. If you have already done so, possibly at the time of your child’s birth, then you can file a petition asking for a hearing in court and a formal custody order. 

If you are not on the birth certificate, you must change that before asking for parenting time. Sometimes, the mother of the child may willingly fill out paperwork to add your name to the birth certificate father. Other times, you may need to go to court and to undergo genetic testing to validate your paternity claims. 

Once the state recognizes you as the father, you will have all the rights and responsibilities that come with that role. You can ask for visitation rights or shared custody. You will also have the right to influence decisions about your child’s health care, education and religious practices. 

Knowing and asserting your rights as a father in Texas will benefit you and the child that you love.

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