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What rights do unmarried fathers have?

As an unmarried father in Texas, you may wonder what rights you have to your child. The law is not always on your side. In fact, unmarried fathers often have few rights until they establish paternity, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

When you are not married to the mother of your child, you are not automatically assumed to be the father. You have to establish paternity to gain any rights to your child. If your name is put on the birth certificate, then that can be enough. Otherwise, this means signing a voluntary statement along with the child's mother or taking a DNA test and having the court rule on paternity.

Without paternity established, you may not get visitation rights to your child or even any say in his or her upbringing. Even worse, you may have no rights when it comes to adoption. If you are registered as the legal father of a child, you will be notified in the event the mother puts the child up for adoption. If you do not have this legal status, you may not be notified.

The Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of your constitutional rights to have your child put up for adoption if you have an established relationship with your child. This means you play an active role in your child's upbringing and support. If you do not have legal paternity and have not established this relationship, then you do not have any rights when it comes to adoption. This information is for education and is not legal advice. 

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