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Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?

I met with a mother recently that who had questions about custody and child support for her children. One of her concerns was whether the fact that she and the father were never married and if that would make a difference?

Today’s blog post will be on child support and custody children in the State of Texas. Although child support and custody of Children is one of the things that a Texas divorce case handles. Marriage or divorce is not a requirement for getting court orders regarding children.

If not handled in a divorce they are handled in a spate cause of action called a Paternity Case or a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship “SAPCR.”

Father’s Right’s vs. Mother’s Rights?

Sometimes you will hear a law firm marketing itself as being a father’s rights or mother’s rights law firm. Father’s and mother’s do not have any special treatment under the law. The new standard is “best interest of the child.”

What father’s and mother’s do have under the law is right to ask the court to make orders regarding which of the parent’s will get to make decisions regarding their child and what visitation is going to look like between them. You can read about this more in our blog “What rights does a father have in Texas?

Before there are Court orders regarding a child in Texas both parents are in sort of limbo land in regards to the rights of the child. One example of this is when parent’s start fighting it is not uncommon for one parent to withhold visitation from the other parent. This can become a very frightening occurrence in which police are often called.

Generally, it is sometimes after this when a parent will reach out to my office. Most of the time after the police have been called out they refuse to take any action because it is dispute between the parents and there is no Court order saying who has superior right to the child. The advice that police generally give both parents is to “get a lawyer.”

In Texas, unmarried parents have the same legal obligations to their children as married or divorced parents do. If an unmarried couple separates, they also will need to go through the court system to get court orders regarding the children.

 Paternity Case or a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship

As mentioned earlier this process is through either Paternity Cases or Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationships. Both of these process are very similar cases. The main difference is that in a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship is that the father has already admitted paternity.

This could have been done through him signing what is called an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” either in the hospital or sometime after. In a Paternity Case one of the things that will need to be done is to establish the father’s paternity by having him take a DNA test.

This is one way where marriage makes a difference in establishing the paternity of children. Under the Texas Family Code section 160.204 a man is presumed to be the father of the children “If the man is married to the mother and the child is born during the marriage.”

Custody or Conservatorship of the Children

In Texas we do not have custody we have conservatorship. They are similar and sometimes used interchangeably by Texas lawyers. However, when you get to court the Judge will be quick to remind you that in Texas it is called conservatorship.

When deciding who will be the “Primary Conservator” of the children (the parent who gets to say where the children live and to receive child support) a court looks at a number of factors. These factors include:

  1. The child’s age and preferences
  2. The relationship between the child and parents
  3. The relationship between the parents
  4. The child’s developmental, emotional, and health needs
  5. Each parent’s financial situation
  6. The living situations of each parent
  7. The parents’ health
  8. Any history of abuse or neglect

While the court’s decision a Trial will determine who will be the “Primary Parent”, that decision is not necessary permanent. Should there be a substantial change in circumstances, either parent may petition with the courts for a modification.

I like to tell my clients nothing is done in regards to the children until they turn 18 or graduate high school whichever comes later.

Child Support

The calculation for child support is not any different for a divorcing couple and couple who have never been married. Generally, the way it works when calculating child support is that it is 20% of the net resources for the first child then an additional 5% for every child after that who is before the court.

If the party paying child support has children from another relationship who they are supporting then they may be able to have a decrease in the amount of

Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
  2. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  3. Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
  4. Texas Child Support Appeals
  5. In Texas are Child Support and Visitation Connected?
  6. Why Ignoring Child Support Obligations is a Bad Idea in Texas
  7. Texas Child Support – Trust and Annuities
  8. Special Needs Children in Texas Child Support Cases
  9. How to get above guideline child support.

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Family Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring Family Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our Family lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Family cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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