In the state of Texas, family law protects a father’s paternal rights to his children. Couples who are expecting a child and are actively pursuing a divorce must work with their respective divorce attorney to ascertain the father’s parental rights, even if the child is not born before the divorce is final. It is likewise true that if a woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock, the biological father still has certain legal rights to be protected. Therefore, it is important for any biological father of an unborn child to work with experienced child custody lawyers to establish their paternal rights.
Who Has Parental Rights?
In Texas, child custody lawyers advise that parental rights are granted to both the mother and the biological father of that child if both parents agree as to paternity and sign the birth certificate. When a child is born out of wedlock or there is not an agreement as to that child’s paternity and both parents do not sign a birth certificate together, the child is said to have no legal father. In this case, a father claiming to be the biological parent must prove paternity in order to be considered as the legal parent of that child and gain any parental rights.
Parental Rights, Unborn Children, and Divorce
Divorce attorneys advise clients that when a married couple divorces before a child is born, the father still has parental rights if he is the biological father of the child, irregardless of whether the mother has entered into a new relationship with someone else. This can be significant in terms of the health and welfare of the child as well as any decisions made pertaining to the unborn child. The biological father must be part of the decision-making process concerning the child, even if the couple divorces. Couples must work out care and custody of the child, even if the divorce is final before the child’s birth.
Proving Paternity to Uphold Father’s Rights
Whether a couple is divorcing or the pregnancy occurred out of wedlock, if a man believes he is the biological father of that child, paternity must be proven. Paternity can be determined even before the birth of the child with DNA testing through amniocentesis. For a man to assert any kind of parental rights prior to birth of a child if the mother is contesting that paternity, the father must request a court order for DNA testing prior to the birth.
For any man to establish that he is the legal father of an unborn child and obtain parental rights when conflict over paternity exists, he must first determine his rights. It is imperative that a man should seek the assistance of an experienced child custody lawyer to help him establish paternity and defend his rights as a parent. Divorcing couples should work with a divorce attorney who is also experienced in child custody, since divorces that involve even unborn children require additional help and consideration!
Garza & Elizondo, LLP, Attorney At Law
680 East St. Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520