In general, fathers in Texas and around the country have a right to spend at least some time with their children. This is the case whether or not the parents were married when the child was born. Courts try to determine what child custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interests of the child, and usually, this means time with both parents. An exception is if a judge believes that a parent may endanger a child.
If the parents are unmarried, a father must first establish paternity. Parents can work together to allow the father to voluntarily acknowledge this. If paternity is in dispute, a DNA test might be necessary.
Reaching an agreement
Parents may also voluntarily agree on a custody and visitation arrangement although even if they do so, it is best to make this a formal agreement so that they are both protected if either parent fails to follow through. In situations where the mother is resistant to allowing the father to spend time with the child or where the parents cannot agree on a schedule for child custody and visitation, it may be necessary to go to court.
Fathers should be aware that if the child is already living with the mother, it is unlikely for the father to get sole physical custody. This is because a court will tend to award custody to the parent who is the main caregiver. However, the father may still have ample visitation rights and may share legal custody with the mother, which involves sharing any major decision-making about such things as the child’s religion, health and education. Joint physical custody is another possibility. A father may be awarded sole custody if there is proof that the mother is abusing or neglecting the child.
Fathers who are concerned about their rights may want to discuss the situation with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help them prepare appropriate documentation in a custody dispute or negotiate an agreement for custody and visitation.