It’s a different world today than it was decades ago and some couples choose to have children without actually getting married. Still, Texas residents still have rights under the law when it comes to cohabitation and that law speaks to issues that concern children, such as child custody. When the relationships of common law parents end, it might be more difficult for the father to get custody of or to have visitation rights for his children. When this is the case, the first order of business is to formally establish paternity of the children with a paternity test.
Obtaining custody rights
Once the man has established he is the father of the children and he is formally declared to be the biological parent, he potentially has the same custody rights as a divorced man would have if he had been living in the same home as the mother and raising the children with her. However, the father must petition the court to obtain custody rights. Most family court judges believe children do best in shared custody situations, but they use a number of benchmarks to ascertain custody, one of the most important being what is deemed to be in the best interests of the children.
Working together is important
Parents who were cohabiting — just like their married counterparts — should do everything possible to work together for the benefit of their children. This includes writing a parenting plan indicating who does what and when. A court will look favorably on anything parents do amicably for the welfare of their kids. A judge is more apt to approve a parenting plan if this is the case.
The bottom line is that unwed Texas fathers have rights in regard to their children. Child custody issues may be a little more intricate in these instances, so fathers need to ensure they are getting the parental rights to which they’re entitled. That may be much easier to achieve by consulting an attorney experienced in family law.