317Understanding Father’s Rights in Texas
If you are ending a relationship with a woman with whom you have had a child you may be wondering what your rights are as the child’s father. A man can only obtain a father’s rights in Texas if he is considered the legal father under the Uniform Parentage Act (Texas Family Code Section 160 et seq.). But once the legal requirements are met to prove that you are the child’s father, you have numerous rights, including:
The Right to Seek Physical and Legal Custody of Your Child:
Under Texas law, the mother and the father have equal rights to be a child’s custodial parent. If you and your former partner are unable to reach an agreement on who will be the custodial parent, the Family Court will decide based on the best interest of the child. But even if you don’t end up being your child’s custodial parent, you still have many other rights under the law.
The Right of Regular Contact:
The right of regular contact means that if you are not your child’s custodial parent you will normally be given regular visitation with your child. You and your former partner can either agree on a set visitation schedule, or the court can order a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of your child. Texas courts almost never deny visitation but can in circumstances involving abuse, neglect, criminal activity, or in any situation where visitation would not be in the child’s best interest. Finally, when you have visitation with your child, your former partner is not permitted to interfere with that visitation, even if you are behind on child support payments.
The Right to Be Involved in Decisions Regarding The Child’s
Healthcare, Education & Religious Upbringing:
This means that you can participate in all decisions relating to your child’s healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. You have the right to help decide which doctors your child sees, and decide where your child goes to school and church. This also means that you will have the right to access your child’s medical and educational records as permitted by law.
The law also gives you the right to be involved in the decisions regarding how your child will be disciplined for misbehavior.
The Right to Manage the Child’s Assets, and Financial & Legal Affairs:
The Texas Family Code also permits fathers to be involved in managing all of a child’s assets such as earnings or real property. In fact, you can be involved in managing all of your child’s financial dealings if he/she has any. In addition, if your child becomes involved in any legal proceedings, you have the right to be involved in those proceedings.
As a child’s father you also have any other rights which Texas law confers upon parents.
It is important to remember that your former partner as all of the same parental rights that you do. In addition, a court can grant any specific right solely to one parent or the other, which often happens when there is a history of the parents being unable to work cooperatively together to make decisions regarding the child. Finally, remember that in addition to these rights, as a father you will also have the continuing legal duty to support your child in every way.
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