Clients frequently ask McKinney family lawyers whether Texas is a “mother state” or “father state” when it comes to issues like custody, visitation, and child support. Fathers, in particular, are worried about what rights they have and what they need to do to enforce those rights. 

Fathers often find it easier to secure their rights when they work with an experienced attorney. While every situation is different, here’s a brief overview of Fathers’ rights in Texas.

Does a Father Have to Prove He Is the Father?

One good place to start when considering fathers’ rights is the question of whether a father has to prove his paternity to be entitled to exercise paternal rights. Section 160.204 of the Texas Family Code explains that a man is presumed to be the father of a child in the following circumstances: 

  • He was married to the mother at the time the child is born
  • The child was born no more than 300 days after the marriage to the mother ended
  • He continuously resided in the same household as the child for the first two years of the child’s life and told others that the child was his
  • He took certain steps to voluntarily assert paternity and married the child’s mother after birth

A presumed father is treated as the legal father unless the presumption is disputed and successfully rebutted. To prove that he is not the father, the presumed father must file a denial of paternity (and another must file a valid acknowledgment of paternity) or the matter must be adjudicated by the court. If a man who claims to be the biological father and the mother sign an acknowledgment of paternity, then it can be very difficult to rescind the acknowledgment.   

Fathers’ Rights Coincide with Responsibilities

Once a father is legally acknowledged as a parent of the child, he has the same rights and responsibilities as any parent. Section 151.001 of the Texas Family Code describes many of the rights, as well as the duties. For instance, a parent has the right under the statute to direct a child’s moral and religious training and decide where the child should live. A parent also has the right to physical possession of the child, and to give consent for medical care, receive support payments, and make educational decisions 

The statute also explains that as a parent, a father has the duty to protect, support, and discipline the child. 

McKinney family lawyers know that both parents have these rights and responsibilities unless the court has stepped in to limit or remove those rights. So what happens when the parents do not live together? 

Enforcing Fathers’ Rights

When parents divorce, or in situations where they never married, the court will issue an order determining how parental rights and duties will be allocated. It is a good idea for fathers to work with experienced McKinney family lawyers to develop a plan that protects their rights and to present that plan in a way that is likely to be acceptable to the other parent and the court.  While both parents may be presumed to have equal rights at the start of a proceeding, if one party presents evidence to persuade the court that they should have more time with the child, the other parent could lose out. 

Work with McKinney Family Lawyers to Protect Your Rights as a Father

Whether you are seeking the right to spend more time with your child, to make decisions in your child’s life, or to provide support that is reasonable under the circumstances, advice and advocacy from dedicated McKinney family lawyers could help you reach your goals. At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, we know how you value your relationship with your children, and we are prepared to use every available strategy to protect your rights as a father. For a free confidential consultation to learn more about the assistance we could provide, contact us now.