Much like a divorce with children is a difficult and emotional process, ending a relationship that involves a child is also challenging. Unmarried parents face similar issues when it comes to determining custody and placement of the child; however, these parents face different issues that are unique to this matter. While they do not have to go through the added issues like property division or spousal support, unmarried couples must first establish parental rights. In other words, unmarried fathers in Texas must take steps to establish rights as the father to the child in question.
When parents are unmarried, the mother is awarded sole physical custody. However, if a father seeks to take action, he could obtain some form of custody or visitation rights. It should be noted, however, that a father couldn't win custody over a mother if she is a good parent.
When a custody dispute arises between unmarried parents, the options for custody are fairly the same for parents going through a divorce. The couple could resolve the matter by reaching an agreement on their own, or they could secure a decision by a family court judge. When a judge must make a decision on child custody regarding unmarried parents, the court's primary consideration is to assess the child's primary caretaker.
No matter what process unmarried parents go through to deal with a custody dispute, the importance is that the child's best interests are the focal point. While this is an emotional and contentious matter, it is vital that unmarried parents handle the matter as civil as possible.