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What should you do if you are not married to your child's dad?

If you are a Texas mother who is not married to your child's dad, there are some important steps for you to take to guarantee he has the legal rights of a father. You likely want to secure his right to spend time with your son or daughter. Giving him the opportunity to be there for the child can increase the emotional stability of the little one as he or she grows. 

The first step, according to FindLaw researchers, is to establish paternity. Although courts recognize the benefits to children of having both biological parents in their lives, when the two of you have not married, custody and visitation options come into play. Wanting to preserve the best interests of your young ones, courts often presume visitation should be a part of any agreement; however, judges intend to give those rights only to appropriate parties. Establishing paternity helps erase questions the courts may have about granting visitation and custody arrangements.

Following the establishment of legal paternity, you and your child's dad can work out a parenting plan. Ideally, you can come to an agreement without court intervention. This is one of the simplest scenarios. You work out a plan, file it, and ask the judge to approve it, making it an order of the court. Some things to consider including in the plan are primary, secondary or equal custody arrangements as well as preferences for the child's schooling and healthcare. Also, try to anticipate areas in which you may disagree so you can proactively deal with those.

If the two of you are unable to agree about a parenting plan, court intervention may be necessary. This information is not legal advice but intends to educate about child custody for unmarried parents. 

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