Unmarried biological parents in Texas have the same rights to child visitation and custody as married parents. For unmarried fathers, however, the process of establishing these rights can be more complicated.
Unmarried fathers must first establish paternity. This can be as simple as both parents signing an official document denoting the child's father. If the mother is unwilling to do this, then the man will have to prove to the court that he is the father. In such cases, DNA testing may be required.
Once paternity is established, the father is entitled to custody or visitation rights. The parents should then draw up a plan on how they will share parenting duties. This can include which parent gets primary custody as well as visitation rights for the other parent.
When the parents agree on a plan, it needs to be filed with the court and approved by a judge. If the plan is disputed, a judge will decide what is in the best interests of the child. Unmarried fathers usually don't get primary custody of the child unless they can prove that the mother is unfit or they've been the child's primary caregiver.
Establishing parental rights, such as child custody and visitation, can be complicated when the parents are married. They may be even more complex if the parents have never married. An unmarried father seeking custody or visitation rights may want to consult a family law attorney for assistance. The lawyer might be able to explain Texas laws on the issues involved. An attorney may also help the father obtain his rights by doing the proper paperwork and representing him in court.