Galveston County Unmarried Child Custody Lawyer
When two unmarried parents choose to separate they are still required to go through the proper legal channels to establish an official custody arrangement. At the law firm of Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., our Galveston County unmarried child custody lawyers are committed to helping Texas residents with their custody issues, regardless of the marriage status of the parents.
In Texas, when a child is born to unmarried parents, the law will not recognize the biological father as the child’s legal parent. To obtain legal rights to his child, an unmarried father must go through the process of establishing paternity. There are three ways to establish paternity:
- By court order; and
- By agreement.
Acknowledgement of Paternity
The simplest and most common method for establishing paternity is through a voluntary agreement. When both parents agree that a man is the child’s biological father, they can sign a free legal document called an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or AOP. An AOP can be signed at any time before or after the child’s birth by working with a hospital, vital statistics office, or the Office of the Attorney General. The only documentation required is a valid form of identification. When there is no question as to a child’s paternity, this method can be used to quickly establish a father’s rights.
Another method of establishing paternity is through an agreed paternity order. This requires that both parents and a judge sign a legal agreement identifying the child’s father. The parents must also agree to a custody arrangement, visitation, child support, and who will bear responsibility for medical expenses. By using this method, parents can establish legal paternity while also taking care of all custody-related issues. If the parents are able to reach an amicable agreement, they can submit an agreed-upon paternity order without court interference.
When two parents do not agree on the father’s identity, a court will step in to determine paternity. This process often requires DNA testing of the father and the child. The court will then draft the order based on the results of the examination. Once the court establishes paternity, both parents are considered to have the same legal rights and obligations as married couples. For this reason, if an unmarried couple chooses to separate, they must still create and adhere to a custody arrangement.
Contact a Galveston County Paternity Lawyer Today
When a married couple decides to separate, they must engage in divorce proceedings to determine spousal maintenance and division of property as well as who will have custody of any children. Unmarried parents, however, do not have to decide these issues and so can focus on and resolve custody matters more quickly. Custody battles can still be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining, so it is often in the best interest of all parties to attempt to create a custody arrangement outside of court.
If you live in Galveston County and are not married to the mother or father of your child, please contact one of the experienced child custody lawyers at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. by calling 281-486-6116. We can help you work out a custody arrangement that is fair for all parties, especially the child. Our lawyers can also assist you with establishing paternity, arranging a child support plan, or modifying an existing court order.