In Dallas today, perhaps more so than at any time in the past, it’s become increasingly common for the rights of unmarried fathers to come into question. This is due in part to a rising level of awareness of fathers’ rights among unmarried men, and a willingness to try to enforce those rights through the Texas legal system.

Because the states have considerable leeway in defining the rights of unmarried fathers, it’s important for residents to understand just what Texas law says about the matter. We’ll spend some time exploring this issue based on information available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website. We present this not as specific legal advice, but as general information only.

First we should look at how our state defines a father. There are actually two categories. When a court rules that a man is the father of a child, we call him the “adjudicated father.” In the absence of such a ruling, a man is called the “presumed father” if he meets certain conditions.

One of those conditions is if the child was born during a time in which the presumed father was married to the child’s mother. Another is if the child lived with the presumed father from birth to 24 months, and he told others that he was the father. A man may also be a presumed father if he voluntarily asserted paternity of the child after marrying the mother.

There are other conditions that can also lead to recognition as a presumed father, but these are among the more common. We’ll continue our discussion next week with a look at the ins and outs of establishing paternity. In the meantime, we encourage readers with specific questions to seek advice from a legal professional.


Source:, “The Rights of Unmarried Fathers,” accessed on June 19, 2015