Q: My daughter's mother refuses to agree to a schedule of when I can see my daughter. What are my rights?
I reside in California and my daughter's mother moved with her to Texas 5+ yrs ago w/o my knowledge or consent. She does not have legal papers stating she has full/sole custody. I've been trying to get her to agree on a schedule of when my daughter can come and visit. I've suggested she visits me in California during her summer vacation and alternating holidays. She refuses to agree or even talk about it. I send money every 2 weeks voluntarily. I would like to know how I can go about getting court ordered visitation since she's being difficult about it. She's denying my right as a father. She's unresponsive when I need my daughter's info, i.e ss# so I can place her on my health insurance and her home address so I can send my daughter things she needs or gifts. Are there any resources in regards to lawyers taking pro bono cases or a reduced fee? Please advise as I've not been able to see my child.
A: Since the child has been living in Texas for five years, and there apparently is no court case in California, jurisdiction will most likely be in Texas. You will need to consult with a Texas family lawyer about filing in Texas for custody and visitation. California court's have a self-help resource center, but Texas may or may not have one. Contact the bar association in the county where the lives for a referral to a family lawyer or if there's a pro bono lawyer out there. There has been a lot of time that has gone by without seeing your daughter, and take action so you don't have to dig yourself out of a deeper hole.
A: What you can or should do depends on whether you and the child's mother were married and divorced. Generally, if you and the mother were not married and you are the biological father of the child you would have to file a parentage case to be recognized as the child's father. You would have to file this action in the state in which the child resides, so in Texas. When filing your parentage action, requesting parental recognition, you would also request an order for custody and visitation. You would have to consult with a Texas attorney for instructions on how to go about filing your case there. Each state has their own forms, laws and procedures. Unfortunately, since the child does not reside in California you can not file an action for custody in California.
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