Dwyer Law Firm, Attorney at Law

Do Unmarried Fathers Need To Take Additional Steps To Establish Parentage?


Yes. Unmarried fathers may want to register with the Texas Vital Statistics by filing a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity. You can go to the Texas Vital Statistics website to do that. However, it is important to note that registering is not a formal recognition of the biological father as the father of the child. A man would likely need to file a paternity lawsuit to obtain the legal rights of a biological father. The filing with the registry may help give the father notice of his rights to a newborn that is abandoned or give notice if an adoption or other court proceedings regarding the child. It is important to note that filing with the registry must be done within 31 days of the child’s birth. If it is greater than the 31 days, then the father may want to hire an attorney to establish paternity and obtain court orders regarding his rights regarding the child.

Do Today’s Laws Surrounding Father’s Rights Make It Hard For Unmarried Fathers To Sustain A Relationship With Their Children?

Unmarried father’s rights are not any more difficult to enforce then married father’s rights. Of course, if there is a question as to whether the father is the biological father, it will be a more expensive litigation process. However, either way, married or unmarried, the father has a right to visitation/possession. If the father is the non-primary parent/conservator, then the father will probably be ordered to pay child support and pay for health insurance. Further, the possession schedule under the statutes of the State of Texas for a child under 3 is limited whether the child was born in or out of wedlock. If the mother of the child is not going to voluntarily allow the unwed father to have a significant amount of time or access to the child, the limited visitation schedule will make it difficult to have a nurturing relationship with the child until after the child reaches the age of 3.

Who Automatically Has Custody Of A Child When The Parents Are Not Married?

The mother automatically has custody of a child when the parents are not married. This is because the mom gave birth, most often in a hospital, and takes the child home after giving birth. Therefore, the father never has possession of the child from birth. That’s the only reason that a mother automatically has custody of the child when the parents are not married. It’s more of a pragmatic answer than a legal answer.

What Are The Legal Implications Of Having Children As An Unmarried Couple?

If the parents are together, then there are no significant legal ramifications. However, if they are not married, the primary parent, the mother, will probably want child support and the child’s health insurance to be paid by the father. Under Texas law, both parents owe a duty of support. However, because it is typical that the child live with the mother, it is also typical that the father is ordered to pay child support and the premiums of health insurance for the child. If the father wants to be in the child’s life, he may have to fight for that in court requesting that the court order a visitation/possession order for the father. Further, most hospitals have a form, Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), which can be signed by both parents.

Absent A Custody Order, Does The Mother Decide Whether Fathers Can See Their Children?

Yes, absent an order from a custody order, the father’s visitation is subject to the decision of the mother.

Does An Unmarried Father Have To Pay Child Support Even If He Doesn’t Plan To Be Involved In The Child’s Life?

A child born out of wedlock is still owed child support by both parents. If the child is living with the mother, then the father will typically be ordered to pay child support. If the mother needed any type of governmental assistance for the birth of the child, the Attorney General for the State of Texas will probably file an action for child support against the father. So, whether you intend to have a relationship with the child or not, you will probably be ordered to pay child support and the premium for the child’s health insurance.

For more information on Steps To Establish Unmarried Father’s Parentage, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (972) 746-2805 today.

Rex Dwyer, Esq

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