While the child custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents are very similar to child custody laws for parents who were previously married to each other, there are a few important differences to consider. 

Taly Thiessen of Thiessen Law Firm is here to tell you all about the child custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents. Taly is an award-winning family lawyer who fights fiercely in the courtroom and argues compassionately for her clients in mediation and negotiation. She understands that every family is unique and that the one-size-fits-all solutions proposed by Texas courts don’t often fulfill the needs of modern families.

If you’re looking for the best family attorney Houston has to offer, you need to call Thiessen Law Firm. No matter how complex your situation or how unique your family is, Taly and the family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to look out for you. 

Who has custody for unmarried parents in Texas?

When parents are married to each other, child custody laws in Texas state that paternity is assumed. But what if the parents are not married? If both parents are on the birth certificate but not married, who has custody in Texas? In Texas, if a child’s parents are unmarried, the mother has automatic custody rights over the child, both physical and legal. Meanwhile, an unmarried father has extremely limited rights, even if his name is on the birth certificate.

The difference between physical and legal custody

Physical custody refers to the place where the child lives and under whose roof they are staying. 

Legal custody refers to which parent has the ability to make life decisions for the child, including where they live, go to school, where they receive medical care, and how they are disciplined. 

While these two things are often possessed by the same parent, or shared between both parents in joint custody, it is possible for physical and legal custody to be split up.

What are an unmarried mother’s rights in Texas?

As discussed above, unmarried mothers automatically get physical and legal custody of their children in Texas, and often tend to receive preferential custodial treatment over fathers, why? 

Although it isn’t always the right decision, the court tends to favor mothers because there is less confusion surrounding maternity than there is paternity. Situations in which any confusion exists about who a child’s mother is are extremely rare, and the court has to make the surest choice possible. 

However, if paternity can be established in a court of law, the father should then request equal parental rights with the mother. 

What rights does an unmarried father have in Texas?

Do unmarried fathers have zero parental rights in Texas? According to child custody laws in Texas, an unmarried father must take legal steps before having any specific rights over their child. First, he must establish paternity. Again, this goes beyond having your name on the child’s birth certificate. 

Most people go one of two ways to establish paternity: by signing an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” (AOP) or getting a DNA test. A DNA test requires a cheek swab from both the father, mother, and child. If the mother of the child is not cooperating, the father will likely need legal help via a court order and might want to consider enlisting the help of an experienced custody lawyer for fathers.

Once paternity has been established, the parents (or one parent) will want to make sure to submit a court order to establish custody rights. This court order is necessary for an unmarried father to have any rights over their child.

Struggling to establish paternity or get child custody? These articles may help. 

What kind of custody options do unmarried fathers and mothers have?

Unmarried couples with a child splitting up in Texas need to have a comprehensive court order that addresses all the issues within a custody arrangement.

First, a custody arrangement or court order is broken down into multiple key items. Conservatorship, rights and duties, possession, access, support, and geographic restrictions are all main issues when determining custody.

Conservatorship is the legal term for parents. This designation also establishes who will designate the residence of the child. There are joint managing conservators, sole managing conservators, and possessory conservators in Texas.

Rights and duties are specific actions that can be taken on behalf of one parent exclusively, jointly, or independent from each other. They include the right to consent to medical, dental, and psychological treatment, as well as make decisions regarding education.

Possession and access refer to the actual time that you have with your child, more often referred to as “visitation.”

Unmarried parents who haven’t established a legally binding child custody arrangement, will want to find a top-rated child support and child custody lawyer in Houston. Even if both parents get along great and agree to joint custody in Texas, a family lawyer can make sure that everything is set up in the best interest of the child. 

The custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents can get complicated. Call Thiessen Law Firm for help.

The way your child custody agreement is set up can impact everything from how often you are able to see your child to how much child support you’re obligated to pay every month. In other words, Texas child custody laws can have a huge impact on your quality of life. 

Whether you need a fierce divorce lawyer in Houston, TX, or a compassionate advocate in the form of a lawyer for fathers’ rights, Thiessen Law Firm is here to help you see it through. Thiessen Law Firm’s Taly Thiessen is a leading father’s rights lawyer in Houston, who can help you navigate the murky waters of the custody laws in Texas for unmarried parents.

Call Taly today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a case evaluation. 

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