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Plano, TX Fathers' Rights Lawyer

Denton County fathers' rights lawyer

Attorney Serving Fathers in Paternity and Child Custody Cases in Collin County

In the past, traditional American family structures tended to assign mothers the primary responsibility for raising their children, and as such, they were often favored in legal child custody decisions in Texas and throughout the U.S. However, these views are now largely outdated, and Texas laws have been updated to reflect changing norms. As a father, you have the same rights in Texas family law proceedings as your child's mother, but you may need to take additional steps to secure and protect them.

At the Law Office of Brian Bagley, we understand how important it is for many single fathers to be involved in their children's lives. We put our 10 years of family law experience to work helping unmarried fathers establish paternity, as well as helping divorced and unmarried fathers alike secure fair child custody arrangements. If you need an attorney to help you protect your rights and your child's best interests, we are ready to take your case.

Establishing Legal Paternity in Texas

The most important step for fathers who want to secure and exercise their parental rights is to ensure that they are legally recognized as their child's father under Texas law. In many cases, paternity is established by presumption, requiring no further action with the court. For example, a man is presumed to be a child's father when the birth happens during his marriage to the child's mother, as well as in the following circumstances:

  • When the child is born within 300 days after the end of the marriage between the man and the child's mother
  • When the man marries the child's mother after the birth, consents to be named as the father on the birth certificate, and promises to support the child
  • When the man lives continuously with the child for the first two years of the child's life and represents himself as the father

If you do not meet any of the criteria for a presumption of paternity, you will need to take additional steps to legally establish the parent-child relationship. One option is to complete and file a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), which both you and your child's mother will need to sign. You may wish to take a paternity test to confirm your biological relationship with the child before signing an AOP, and if any other man may be presumed to be the child's father, you will need to have him complete a Denial of Paternity.

The other option is to petition the court for adjudication of paternity. This may be necessary if there are competing paternity claims, or if the child's mother refuses to acknowledge you as the father. In most cases, you can expect court-ordered genetic testing for you, the child, the child's mother, and other men who may be the child's presumed or acknowledged father. Based on the results of the test and other evidence presented before the court, you may be adjudicated as the child's legal father.

What Are a Father's Rights and Responsibilities?

Establishing paternity by presumption, acknowledgment, or adjudication means that you become legally obligated to provide financial support for your child. If you are not married to your child's mother, you may be expected to make court-ordered child support payments until your child becomes an adult, and the same is true if you are currently married to your child's mother but later get a divorce.

Fathers with legal paternity in Texas also have the right to pursue custody and visitation of their children, either immediately after the establishment of paternity for unmarried fathers, or in the event of a divorce for married fathers. Importantly, Texas law does not discriminate based on a parent's gender when making child custody decisions, but focuses on terms that are in the child's best interests. This means that you could be granted sole managing conservatorship, joint managing conservatorship, or possessory conservatorship of your child, depending on the circumstances.

Contact a Tarrant County Paternity Lawyer

Unmarried and divorcing fathers can better protect their rights by working with an attorney who has experience in paternity and custody cases. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable family lawyer, contact us today at 972-422-2424. We represent fathers in Tarrant Count, Denton County, Dallas County, Collin County, and the surrounding areas, including Plano, Sachse, Murphy, Lucas, Wylie, and Parker.

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