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Unwed parents and child custody laws

Roughly 40 percent of children born in Texas and throughout America are born to parents who are not married. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a child's father to not appear on a birth certificate. However, this can raise questions as to who has custody of the child and what steps each parent needs to take to formally obtain custody or visitation rights. In some states, an unwed mother will need to file for custody of a son or daughter.

In states such as Oklahoma, the mother has sole custody until a father is identified and he asks for custody or visitation. It is important to point out that a birth certificate on its own does not establish paternity. In some cases, it is necessary to establish paternity before a man can have his name placed on a child's birth certificate.

Typically, a court will allow both parents to have an equal role in a child's life as it is generally in the child's best interest for this to occur. This is true whether the parents are married or if the child currently lives with the mother. Those who are interested in learning more about their rights may want to contact an attorney who has experience handling child custody cases involving unwed parents.

The best interests of the child are the top concern of a judge when making a child custody or visitation order. Therefore, a father may be entitled to custody rights after paternity has been established regardless of whether he was married to the mother when the child was born. This may be true even if the parents themselves do not have a strong relationship. Any child custody or visitation order created by the court may be modified if circumstances change.

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