While deciding custody and child support during a divorce can be a very challenging experience, those who were never married may face even more difficulties. This is especially true in the case of the noncustodial parent. Even though it can be a difficult and even intimidating process, it’s important to establish your parental rights in the family courts as soon as possible. Understanding what to expect and how to make the process as easy as possible can help.
One of the very first things you should do before entering into any kind of custody or child support issue is get knowledgeable legal counsel. The laws and guidelines governing the family courts can be complicated, and there are always exceptions to every rule. Talking with an attorney about your specific situations and goals can help you better understand what you may be up against and how best to establish and protect your parental rights.
A family law attorney can also help you review any proposed custody or child support agreements to ensure they are reasonable and in accordance with Texas law before you sign. This is especially important in regards to establishing paternity and a custody arrangement. Once a custody order is in place, the courts are often less likely to change things from the norm.
It’s also important to think ahead and make sure that any arrangement made include provisions from later issues. For instance, a custody order should always have stipulations for how far in advance the custodial parent has to notify you in the event of a move and how the custody arrangement will be changed to reflect the new arrangements.
Source: Attorney General of Texas, “Handbook for Non-Custodial Parents,” accessed Dec. 08, 2015