Child Custody and Unmarried Parents
Texas laws regarding child custody extend to all parents whether they are married or not. Except under unusual circumstances all parents have a right of visitation and custody. As your College Station family law lawyer will tell you, however, if the parents are unwed then the father's paternity must first be established before such rights will be granted.
Paternity can be established in several ways. First, if the parents mutually acknowledge each other as such, they can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Sometimes a father does not acknowledge his parentage. In this case, that individual does not have the right to visitation or custody unless he submits to a DNA test that affirms his paternity. Similarly, a mother may not be certain who the father of her child is. A DNA paternity test will be required in this instance as well if the person claiming to be the father wishes to share visitation and custody.
Forms of Managing Conservatorships
In Texas two forms of managing conservatorships exist. A managing conservatorship refers to issues of sharing and proportioning parenting duties.
- Joint Managing Conservatorship: In Texas it is legally presumed that it is in the best interests of children that both parents share in their custody and care. When a joint managing conservatorship is ordered, the parents are to submit a plan of custody and support to the court that indicates the children's primary residence, as well as each parent's duties related to the support and care of the children. It should be noted that having a joint managing conservatorship does not mean necessarily that the two parents share equally in the duties and custody. Indeed, it is likely that one parent will provide the primary residence.
- Sole Managing Conservatorship: Sometimes it is in the best interests of the children not to allow one of the parents custody, as in cases where child abuse has been an issue. A sole managing conservatorship will be granted with visitation rights allowed for the non-custodial parent. In some cases such visitation will only be allowed when supervised.
For Further Information or Assistance with a Custody Issue
Texas family courts always give priority to the best interests of the children, so this will in large part dictate whether you will have a joint or sole managing conservatorship. If you are having difficulty with a custody matter you should consider working with a College Station family law lawyer. Call Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681.