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Notary publics cannot establish child custody in Texas

A notary public in Texas has a very different role in the legal system than does a Mexican “notario”.

In Texas, a notary public’s main role is to administer oaths when a person needs to give a statement under penalties for perjury.

Another common job is to help a person formally acknowledge a document, which is a fancy way of saying that the notary verifies a person’s identification and signature.  They can also certify the reliability of certain documents.

Unlike a Mexican “notario”, Texas notary publics may not give legal advice and have no more authority to draw up an agreement or other legal document than anyone else.

Even though a Texas notary public may also be called a “notario”, they undergo much less training and have much less authority than their Mexican counterparts.  People cannot take an agreement to a Texas notary and assume it will become binding and enforceable in court.

Notary publics cannot legally establish child custody and parenting time

This unfortunate confusion has the potential to cause serious problems when unmarried parents are trying to establish child custody and parenting time, a process which Texas law calls conservatorship and access.

The bottom line is that a man or a woman in the McAllen area who thinks they have an enforceable custody arrangement simply because they signed a document in front of a notary should think again.

In Texas, the only way to create an enforceable child custody and parenting time arrangement is to submit it to the appropriate court and have the court approve it. For unmarried parents, the first step will be for the father to establish legal paternity.

Figuring out and legally establishing custody can be a complicated process that requires the help of a licensed Texas family law attorney.

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