Fathers across Texas have meaningful and supportive relationships with their children. However, if they end their relationship with their child’s mother, they may wonder what will happen to that cherished relationship. What should fathers know about their parental rights in the state of Texas?

Child support and custody decisions are gender-neutral.

In Texas, both of a child’s parents are intended to have a meaningful presence in their child’s life. As a result, child custody and issues of visitation are ultimately determined by the best interests of the child and often lead to shared custody between parents. While parents’ gender does not factor into the particulars of a custody arrangement, the court may consider a variety of other details, including each parent-child relationship and the child’s educational needs.

Just as child custody decisions are gender-neutral in the state of Texas, child support determinations are not made based on the gender of the parent. Rather than fathers bearing the obligation to financially support their child, the courts grant child support based on each parent’s circumstances, parenting time and other aspects of their lives.

Unmarried fathers should establish paternity to protect their rights.

While fathers who are married to a child’s mother automatically have parental rights when that child is born, unmarried fathers must take additional steps in order to have those rights. Fathers can establish paternity when a child is born by being listed on the birth certificate. They can also undergo genetic testing to establish paternity.

Paternity is only one step for fathers hoping to gain sole custody, however. They will also likely need to show that they have an ongoing relationship with their child.

By carefully building their legal strategy, it is possible for married and unmarried fathers to protect their rights and their close relationship with their child.