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What rights do fathers have in an unplanned pregnancy?

Relationships can be complicated, even in the best of circumstances. When an unplanned pregnancy occurs, the issues can become even more difficult and complex. If you are the father of an unexpected child in Texas, you may be wondering what your rights are and what your next steps should be.

According to the Texas Attorney General, one of the first steps you will need to take is to establish paternity. If your child's mother is willing, you can both sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity and file it with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Both parents must sign the acknowledgement in order for it to be valid.

How does child custody work in separation agreements?

Texan parents may sometimes need a break from each other, but might not want an actual divorce. This is where separation agreements come in. They allow you and your partner to divide up assets, finances, property and more, without having to legally sever your marriage. But where does your child fall in all of this?

Fortunately for you, separation agreements also address issues regarding children of the parents. This includes matters regarding:

  • Child custody
  • Child support payments
  • Legal matters regarding the child

Best interests of the child in Texas

Under the Texas Family Code, the red thread running through all the law governing a parent-child relationship with respect to conservatorship (i.e. parental responsibility) and possession (i.e. custody) is the principle that the best interest of the child is “the primary consideration of the court.” The Code, in fact, articulates a statement of public policy that children should have a relationship with parents who have “shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child.”

Certain presumptions, codified in the language of the statute, shed light on the best interest of the child standard. For example, it is presumed that a child’s best interests are not represented if he or she is living with a parent who has exhibited a “history or pattern” of abuse or neglect. It is also presumed that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. However, other than these presumptions, there is little guidance in the Family Code about what factors should be weighed by the court in its determination of whether certain decisions, arrangements, plans and orders are in the best interest of the child.

Understanding Texas child support laws

Child support is a legal obligation in Texas. Once a judge has signed an order of child support, the noncustodial parent is required to pay the specified amount of child support to the custodial parent of his or her children or to the person who has primary custody of them. Under the Texas Family Code, failure to do so can result in the specified periodic payment being withheld from the disposable earnings of the obligor; i.e., the parent required to pay.

The court may order that child support payments continue until one of the following occurs:

  • The child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
  • The child becomes emancipated through marriage or other operation of law.
  • The child dies.
  • The child becomes disabled for an indefinite period.

Steps to get child support

If you are going through a divorce in Texas and need to secure child support, there are several steps you should take. We at the Law Offices of Keith E. Holloway can help you accomplish everything you need to do and fight for your rights during your court case.

 

The benefits of joint custody

When Texan parents get a divorce, it's up to them to decide how they want to raise their child. While each situation is different and requires its own unique approach, some studies have shown that joint custody might be a better option in regard to the health and happiness of the child.

Good Therapy suggests that the health of a child is improved by joint custody. This includes issues like insomnia, nausea, headaches, changes in appetite, and other psychosomatic symptoms. As shown by the study they pulled from, children of divorce generally had worse mental and physical health than children whose parents were together. However, the children of joint custody generally appeared to have fewer difficulties than other children with divorced parents.

What is the Survivor Benefits Plan?

Getting a divorce in Texas can be difficult, but things can become even more complicated if you are in the military. While deployment and duty can cause stress, there are some specific benefits associated if you are getting a divorce from a serviceman or servicewoman. One of those is the Survivor Benefits Plan.

 

What is decided on during divorce mediation?

As someone going through a divorce in Texas, you understand intimately that it's more than a cut-and-dried severance and a small stack of papers, especially if a child is involved. At the Law Offices of Keith E. Holloway, we strive to help minimize this complex and often stressful process so that every party deals with as few issues as possible and the child's best interest is protected.

So what exactly needs to be looked at when determining the duties and rights of you or your ex-spouse when it comes to your child? Depending on your level of amiability with each other, the thought of their involvement may or may not be a comforting one. However, working to come to an agreement is an important part of the mediating process. Together, you may need to decide:

  • Who will make the health decisions
  • Who the child will primarily live with
  • Who can make decisions regarding the child's education
  • Visitation schedules

What don't child support payments go toward?

Parents who divorce in Texas are still left with one major and long-lasting issue that they need to cooperate together to work through: how they're going to pay to raise their child well. Child support payments are meant to help spread out the financial burden, but unfortunately, there are a lot of expenses that child support doesn't cover.

Huffpost has an article detailing the things that might be too expensive for child support payments to cover. Generally speaking, these are things that are considered "non-essential", but are still essential to the overall enrichment of your child's life and possibly directly tied to their happiness or your ability to care for them. For example, as a single working parent, you'll likely have to shell out for some form of child care service. Whether you're dealing with daycare, babysitters, or full-time nannies, these services can be expensive.

Can fathers get sole custody?

If you are going through a divorce in Texas, you know how tricky navigating child custody can be. For fathers, the path to sole custody can seem even more difficult, if not impossible. Many fathers have been left wondering if there is any way they can become the sole caregiver for their children.

 

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