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Can an Unmarried Father Get Custody of His Child in Texas? 

 Posted on March 14, 2022 in Family Law

shutterstock_89145889.jpgNothing compares to the excitement and sense of trepidation a man has when he finds out that he is having a child for the first time. Whether planned or unplanned, married or unmarried, fathers play a crucial role in their children's lives. Whenever it would be in the child's best interests, Texas law encourages both parents to be actively involved in a child’s upbringing. For fathers who are not married to the mother of their child, however, getting parental rights can be a little more complicated. If you recently found out that you are, or will be, a father, you probably want to know as much as you can about custody laws in Llano County for unmarried fathers. 

Does an Unmarried Father Have Automatic Custody Rights? 

The short answer to this question is no. Until a man establishes paternity, he does not have a legal relationship with a child, even if he is certain he is the biological father. When parents are married to each other, a father automatically has paternity over any children born to them. But when a couple is unmarried, paternity must be established in one of two ways: 

  • Voluntarily, by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form 

  • Involuntarily, through a court order 

An Acknowledgement of Paternity form is commonly signed when the mother and father agree that the alleged father is, in fact, the child’s biological father. Parents often sign this form in a hospital, immediately after a child is born, but the AOP form can be signed later and sent to the AOP-certified entity nearest to the parents. If either parent disputes a child’s paternity, then a court issues an order adjudicating parentage. To prove a man is a child’s biological father, a court can require DNA testing and collect DNA swabs from the mother, the father, and the child. 

I Have Established Paternity. Now What? 

Once an unmarried father has established paternity, he can schedule a court date to request custody. Child custody in Texas is divided into two different categories: conservatorship, which is the right of a parent to make important decisions for a child, and possession and access, which is the right of a parent to spend time with a child. A father can request both conservatorship and possession and access at his court date. The more proactive a father is in taking responsibility for and showing interest in his child, the better this reflects on him during a custody hearing. 

Call a Fredericksburg Family Law Attorney

At the Law Office of Russ Alan Baker, PLLC, we are committed to helping fathers have warm, loving relationships with their children that are reflected in a legal custody arrangement. If you are an unmarried father, you can get representation and assistance from an experienced Fredericksburg father’s rights lawyer by calling our offices at 325-216-2006. Schedule your case review today. 



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