When people talk about shared custody arrangements, it usually happens in the context of a divorce. However, you don’t need to have married the mother of your child to have legal rights as a parent in Texas.

Unmarried fathers can also play a significant role in the lives of their children. This is why the Texas family courts encourage unmarried fathers to establish paternity and seek shared custody or at least visitation in order to play a role in the lives of their children.

If you are the biological father of a child, regardless of the status of your relationship with the child’s mother, you have the right to play a role in your child’s life. You also have the legal obligation to provide a certain level of support.

The support usually takes on two forms. You can play a crucial role in the life of your child just by being present for them and maintaining a positive relationship. The emotional and social support that you provide to your child will be invaluable as they grow and mature.

You also have an obligation to provide financial support. In situations with fully shared custody, that financial support may take the form of the food and shelter you provide your child. In a scenario where you have less parenting time, child support paid to the mother may be necessary to offset the discrepancy in parenting time.

If you are already listed on the birth certificate for your child, you can go to the court and request shared custody or visitation. If the mother has yet to acknowledge you as the father, you may need to initiate paternity proceedings to establish yourself as the father prior to seeking parenting time. An experienced attorney can help you work to be part of your child’s life.