About Fathers’ Rights
Courtrooms in Texas have come a long way in protecting fathers rights. In years past, courts would presume that a child should be primarily taken care of the mother. This “old school” mentality is still found in some courts and counties. However, the law makes no distinction between the ability of a father and mother to take care of their children. The whole focus is on what is the “best interest of the child” and a fathers rights will be equally taken into consideration.
A father shares custody rights with the mother, and this includes the right to direct the child’s upbringing. If he loses this right in a divorce proceeding where joint custody is not workable, the father is then usually allowed visitation rights and has a right to notification of adoption proceedings. The fathers rights, once acknowledged, cannot be taken from him except by court order.
ESTABLISHING FATHERS RIGHTS
Presumed fathers may establish their rights to fatherhood in a paternity action in a court of law. The United States Supreme Court has stated that a man who has a biological link to a child and has established a substantial relationship with that child has rights as a father. Signs that help show this substantial relationship include:
- Being married to the mother within 300 days of birth of the child
- Being married to the mother at time of birth
- Being acknowledged on the birth certificate as the father with his own consent
- Living with the child for a period of time while openly acknowledging that the child is his
- Being legally required by court order to support the child
- Agreeing to support the child by written agreement
- His written acknowledgment of paternity, filed with the State of Texas
If any or all of these factors present, a biological father may fight to be recognized as the legal father of the child so that he can take authority of all his parental rights.
At Chernoff Law, we are skilled in helping presumed fathers gain legal recognition as fathers through paternity actions. We are also seasoned in helping fathers enforce their parental rights to visitation, and can aid them in seeking custody if they wish to be more actively involved in the lives of their children.
NOT THE FATHER
Fathers rights are important, but what if a man is named the father when he is not? Situations do arise where a presumed father begins to question whether a child is his. Perhaps the mother has “come clean”, or information about an affair has come to light. Although it may seem obvious that a “father” should be able to contest parentage when it is proven that he his not the father, it is not all that simple in the State of Texas to contest this classification. Although the law admits that it is a “mistake of fact” sufficient to deny parentage when it comes to light after the fact that the child was a result of pairing of mom and another party, it limits the amount of time that a presumed father may contest his responsibility to four years after birth.
On the other hand, A proceeding seeking to disprove the father-child relationship between a child and the child’s presumed father may be maintained at any time if the court determines that:
(1) the presumed father and the mother of the child did not live together or engage in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception; and
(2) the presumed father never represented to others that the child was his own.
CALL CHERNOFF LAW
If you are fighting to prove or disprove paternity, it is best if you speak with an experienced and dedicated lawyer like Ed Chernoff to determine what standing you have to contest paternity. You may have recourse, and further delay may result in loss of privileges. Call us today!