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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.

If the child's mother is unwilling to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity or either of you are unsure about whether or not you are the father, you have the right to request other methods of determining your parental status. If the mother of the child is married or has not been divorced for more than 300 days, her husband will be the presumed father until this is proven incorrect.

As a father, you have many of the same rights that you would have if you had been married and the pregnancy was planned. This includes the right to have visitation or custody of the child. The court will determine which parent would be better suited as the custodial parent, but may award equal shared custody to the two of you. In return, your child also has the right to receive child support and possibly an inheritance from you. This information is intended for your education and should not be taken as legal advice.

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