In most situations, both parents bear a responsibility for providing for their child. Along with those responsibility comes rights as well, such as the right to make decisions on a minor’s behalf like where the child lives, how they will be cared for, where they will attend school, and how their medical needs will be met. However, in some situations, fathers and mothers may have trouble asserting these rights.

If your co-parent is making it difficult for you to assert your rights as a father, a family law attorney from our firm could help you. A father’s rights lawyer could help you understand how the law protects you and could strategize ways to exercise your rights.

What are a Father’s Legal Rights Under the Law?

Provisions within Texas Family Code Chap. 151 dictate a father’s rights and duties under state law. The duties for which a father is responsible include disciplining and caring for the child, providing necessary support with regard to basic needs and education, and managing the child’s estate if the child predeceases. On the other hand, many rights come along with these responsibilities. Fathers’ delineated rights include:

  • Having the child within their physical possession
  • Providing input with regard to the child’s religious and moral instruction
  • Determining where the child will live
  • Consenting to allow the child to get married or enlist in the U.S. armed forces
  • Providing input with regard to the child’s medical and psychiatric care
  • Representing their child in legal proceedings
  • Inheriting through and from their child if the child predeceases them
  • Making decisions with regard to the child’s schooling

If a father finds himself in a situation in which someone else tries to preclude him from exercising these rights, an attorney could provide guidance on what steps to take.

Termination of a Father’s Rights

There are certain circumstances in which a father may have his parental rights legally terminated. Because of the gravity of these types of situations, it is important for the father to consult with a lawyer if they feel their parental rights are in danger.

Under Texas Family Code 161, the law allows for both involuntary and voluntary termination of the father-child relationship. A father’s rights may be terminated involuntarily if they leave their child with no express intent of returning, knowingly place or allow their child to be in dangerous surroundings, engage in conduct that endangers the child, abandons the child’s mother during the known pregnancy, fails to enroll the child in school, or has been convicted of a serious crime. 

How Establishing Paternity May Come Into Play

Under state law, paternity is the legal relationship between a father and his child, and it gives the father rights as a parent. Legal fatherhood is automatic and presumed when he is married to the woman who gives birth to his child. When the parents are married, they have equal legal rights to the child. When an unmarried woman delivers a child, paternity must be legally established through a signed acknowledgment of paternity or a court order before the child will have a legal father. Until paternity is legally established, the biological father does not have any legal rights with respect to the child. An acknowledgment of paternity form (AOP) is the simplest way for unmarried parents to establish paternity. To be valid, both parents must voluntarily sign the form.

Court Orders for Paternity

Establishing paternity via a court order may involve having a fathers’ rights attorney file a petition with the court or requesting that the Texas Office of the Attorney General open a paternity case. Paternity is often established through court order when questions regarding the true father exist and involves genetic testing to confirm a biological relationship to the child.

Hire an Experienced Austin Fathers’ Rights Attorney

Parenting can be one of the most beautiful things in life, but it can also be one of the most significant responsibilities an individual takes on. A father plays a vital role in a child’s life, but sometimes people or situations can get in the way of that relationship. When a co-parent or other party hinders your ability to foster a relationship with your child, a father’s rights lawyer could help determine how you can best protect your interests. Contact us.