A Single Mother's Legal Rights in Texas

by Kimberly Turtenwald

There are a few different ways in which a woman may become a single mother. She may have never been married, she may have gotten a divorce, her husband may have passed away, or her husband may have abandoned her. When a Texas woman finds herself living the life of a single mother, she has specific rights regarding her child.


When the mother was not married to anyone during her pregnancy or at the birth, Texas law recognizes her as the only legal parent the child has. The father cannot be added to the birth certificate and is not considered to be the father until he establishes paternity. If paternity is not established, the mother maintains sole legal and physical custody of her child. She is able to make all decisions and does not have to allow the father access to the child.


If the mother wishes to establish paternity, she can do so in a couple of ways. She can petition the court to order a paternity test to establish paternity. This is especially useful if she is filing for child support and the father is uncooperative. A court-ordered paternity test must be completed or the father is held in contempt. However, if the father is cooperative and wants to be acknowledged as the child's father, he can fill out the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

Child Support

Even though a single mother in Texas is granted sole legal and physical custody of her child, she still has the right to request child support to help financially support her child. In Texas, the father is responsible for paying a court-ordered amount of child support through wage garnishment. If he works under the table or keeps quitting jobs in an effort to avoid paying child support, the mother has the right to file for child-support enforcement, which will intercept tax returns and otherwise pursue payment from the father.


If a single mother decides to allow her child's father to see the child without a court order, she has the right to dictate the circumstances of the visits. For instance, she can refuse to allow the father to take the child on his own, but require him to visit with the child in her presence. This prevents the chance of the father not returning the child. However, if the father disappears with the child without a court order allowing him to do so, it is considered kidnapping, since a single mother has sole custody.

About the Author

Kimberly Turtenwald began writing professionally in 2000. She has written content for various websites, including Lights 2 You, Online Consultation, Corpus Personal Injury and more. Turtenwald studied editing and publishing at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

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