Clarifying Custody For Unmarried Parents
More and more custody situations involve parents who were never married. In a divorce scenario, the father automatically has standing to seek physical custody or visitation with his children. However, if the parents are not married, the father must either sign a state-approved declaration acknowledging his paternity of the child — this is known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) — or he must petition the court to establish his legal paternity of the child. An unmarried father has the same legal rights as the mother to pursue custody of the child or children. But, unlike the mother, he must first have his paternity acknowledged or adjudicated by a court.
Houston attorney Travis Thompson is board-certified family law specialist who can help you deal with these issues. He has represented both fathers and mothers in the Houston area in cases involving paternity, custody and child support.
Understanding Paternity And Custody Rights In Texas
For parents in Texas who have children but were never married, an appropriate court has the authority to make orders for child custody, visitation, and child support. An unmarried father must establish legal paternity over any children in question through (a) an Acknowledgement of Paternity signed by both parents or (b) by an order of the court. If paternity is not acknowledged, the court may require the man to undergo a DNA paternity test to verify that he is the biological father.
Establishing paternity confers rights and responsibilities for both parties. Either parent can be ordered to pay child support. Similarly, either party can be awarded sole custody or primary custody or joint custody of the children. The court will have the authority to allocate the various parental rights and duties
between both of the unmarried parents and both parents could be granted custody.
Working Out The Details Of Raising A Child
Even though you were never married, you are forever tied together as co-parents. Travis Thompson understands that your family dynamics may be very different than they would be for a divorcing couple. He draws on 30-plus years of experience to guide you through the necessary steps to create a fair and durable child custody agreement. He also regularly represents parents — including unmarried parents — in modifications of court orders for custody or support.
Need Help With Your Paternity Case?
If you are concerned about your parental rights or need an attorney’s help with the details of paternity, custody, visitation or child support, call our Houston office at 281-369-8665 or use our email form.