Child custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents – all you should know

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When we talk about unmarried parents in Texas, we are also talking about 40 percent of the kids born each year. As per the studies and the data, approximately 40 percent of the kids in Texas are born to unmarried parents, and this is a huge number.

Hence, it is important to understand the child custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents. These laws let us know about who becomes the legal guardian of the child once the child is born.

If you are unmarried and have become a parent recently, it is quite possible that you want to know if you can be the legal guardian of the child. This article will help you understand where you stand when it comes to legalities of child custody for unmarried parents.

How the law stands for unmarried parents and who is the legal guardian?

When a child is born to a married couple, the man in the couple becomes the legal father of the child. This is as per the Texas Family Court 160.204, and it considers the biological father of the child as the legal parent, provided the couple is married.

If, however, the couple is not married, then the law is not straight forward. In such a scenario, the biological mother of the child is by default considered the child’s legal guardian. For the biological father to become a legal parent, the couple has to sign an acknowledgment of paternity which ascertains the man as the child’s legal father.

What happens when the couple does not sign the acknowledgment for paternity?

In case this acknowledgment is not signed by the couple, the father’s paternity rights are not legal. There are scenarios when the mother of the child refuses to sign the acknowledgment letter.

In such a situation, the father of the child can move to the court to establish his legal rights on the child. Similarly, if the father refuses to sign the letter, the mother can move to the court for establishing paternity for childcare purposes.

What happens when either parent moves the court for establishing parenting?

When either of the parents moves the court for establishing parenting, the court decides the paternity rights. In this case, the court usually orders a DNA test in order to identify the biological father of the child.

Once the judge passes the ruling of parenting rights, the child’s birth certificate will be updated, and then the court will decide the child’s custody.

Can you get the child custody by yourself or if you need an attorney?

Getting child custody is a matter of research, and you need to be aware of the laws to make things happen in the right way. In case you have less knowledge about this field or have a shortage of time, you should contact an attorney.

The attorneys are excellent in their work and will guide you through the process and will help in getting the best outcome for you.

What disputes can arise in case of claiming legal guardianship of the child?

There can be some disputes that can arise when claiming a legal guardianship of the child. These may be any one of the following –

  1. When more than one man claim for a child’s legal custody.  

In this case, a DNA test is conducted and the DNA test justifies the right parenthood rights, and everyone has to follow this report.

  1. The alleged father denies taking the responsibility of the child.

The court proceedings get completed, and everyone has to agree to the final decision.

  1. The mother does not want to give parental rights to the alleged father.

In this case, as well, the court proceedings happen, and the court decides the parenting rights.

One can also file a SAPCR (Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship) which decides on the parentage.

What happens after one gets the parenting rights, and who gets the custody, and for what time?

Once the parenting is established, the next important thing is to decide who gets the custody of the child and for what time. A mutual discussion can help in arriving at the final decision on what the best schedule should be.

In case a mutual decision is not possible, an attorney can intervene and can suggest the best possible schedules. They can articulate good schedules and custody details that suit both the father and the mother of the child.

Even if the attorney cannot come to a conclusion in this regard, the court may pass an SPO (Standard Possession Order). This order gives the standard possession of the child to the parents, and they need to follow the standard schedules.

This order takes care of the child’s best interests and keeps in the account either parent’s ability to support the child.

What parenting rights do the parents get in such cases by default?

The following rights are available by default to the parents –

  1. Either parent gets the right to spend time with their child on an ongoing basis.
  2. Both parents have the right to contributing to the upbringing of the child.
  3. The right to involve in all major life decisions of the child, which includes medical care, education, and overall welfare of the child.
  4. Notably, The right to all the important records of the child, such as medical, educational, psychological, etc. lies with the parents.
  5. The right to attend all school-related activities such as parent-teacher meetings, convocation, etc. 

In Conclusion

Unmarried parents in Texas can get the legal guardianship of the child by mutually signing the acknowledgment for parenting. In case of any disputes, either of the parents can move to the court to ascertain their rights on the child. It is always better to hire an attorney who can help you get the best possible results. Once, the court decides the parenting rights; parents come on a mutual agreement on the custody and meeting schedules with the child.

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