Deciding to end a relationship is always going to be one of the hardest things for couples to do. This decision is especially harder when you and your partner have children. If you’re looking for advice from a reputable child custody law firm about your unique situation, today’s post is for you.
Dividing parenting time and responsibilities – and child custody arrangement as a whole – is not as easy as deciding who gets to keep the furniture or other belongings.
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If you’re facing child custody issues after splitting up with your significant other, there are plenty of factors you should consider.
From each parent’s relationship with the child, to your individual parental rights – those are just some of the few considerations. A child custody law firm can help you figure out the best course of action to sort out your unique issues.
When determining the outcome of your child custody arrangement, it’s important that you know the important factors that the family court takes into consideration. It’s best to have a trusted child custody law firm by your side as you navigate this legal process.
Establishing Your Parental Rights
For married couples with children, verifying the parental rights is typically very straightforward. However, that’s not going to be the case for unmarried couples. When a child’s parents are not officially married, it’s going to pose difficult challenges when it comes to determining parental rights.
To attain custodial rights, a parent must first and foremost prove his or her right to the child. In Texas, as in most states in the country, fathers must establish paternity to verify his claim as the child’s legal parent. Married fathers don’t need to verify paternity – that is automatically established when a child is born to married parents.
Without the paternity established, unmarried fathers can’t be granted legal parental rights – regardless if he is the biological father or if he has assumed the role of a father for most of the child’s life.
To establish paternity, a father must complete an Acknowledge of Paternity together with the child’s mother.
If for some reason the mother is not cooperative, the father can petition to establish paternity through the family court. This process involves genetic testing.
On the other hand, biological mothers (although unmarried) automatically receive legal parental rights when the child is born. Similarly, a married mother are granted parental rights together with the husband automatically.
Once an unmarried father has rightfully established his parental rights, he is free to work with a child custody law firm to pursue a custodial arrangement in the same way a mother can.
Determining Child Custody
Every situation is different. Child custody arrangement and outcomes depend on a case-by-case basis. This means that there is no standard or general child custody arrangement for unmarried couples when they split up.
Parents can choose to agree on a parenting plan and setup outside of court or through mediation with a child custody law firm.
However, if the parents can agree on a custodial arrangement on their own, they will have presented their case before a family court judge.
The family court judge will then carefully consider and look at the following factors before coming up with a decision.
- The relationship of the child to each parent.
- The ability of each parent to provide and care for the child.
- The relationship of the child to each parent’s other family members, household, and community as a whole.
- If one parent served as the primary caregiver previously.
- The child’s wishes – if he or she is old enough to share an opinion.
- Any history of domestic abuse or violence in the household.
Custody Options for Unmarried Couples
After looking at the factors we mentioned above, a family court judge can either grant sole or joint custody.
Joint custody, as the name suggests, refers to an arrangement when both parents share parenting responsibilities and time equally – to an extent. On the other hand, sole custody means only one parent can receive full custody while the other one is granted scheduled visitation time with the child with specific stipulations.
In cases where there is a history or child or domestic abuse, the family court grants sole custody to one parent without allowing the other parent visitation rights at all. There are some instances where supervised visits with an official, usually a social worker, are allowed.