Paternity is a deeply personal and sensitive area of Texas family law with profound implications for everyone involved.
Whether you are a mother seeking to prove the paternity of your child, a potential father who wishes to prove his parentage, or a man who wants to dispute a claim to his paternity, Texas law provides certain rights and protections. The key is you need a compassionate and capable legal advocate on your side.
Texas paternity laws can be complex, and it is important to understand what you are up against before taking any legal action. This is where a paternity attorney comes into play.
A skilled family law attorney with experience navigating paternity actions can help you understand your rights and options. We’ll help you determine the best course of action for your unique situation. Let’s first take a look at how paternity laws work in the state of Texas.
The Implications of Legal Fatherhood
When a man is assigned paternity, he is legally designated as the child’s father. He has the parental responsibility of supporting the child until the child reaches the age of adulthood.
This role carries various legal obligations for the father, most notably financial responsibility for the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter, and medical and educational expenses. Paternity also gives a range of rights and benefits to the father, including:
- Visitation rights.
- The right to seek a child custody order.
- The right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
- The ability to receive information from the child’s school and medical providers.
- Allows his name to be added to the child’s birth certificate, even if it originally wasn’t.
The mother also benefits from establishing the paternity of her child. Establishing paternity enables her to seek child support from the father and shared responsibility in the decision-making process.
The child enjoys some of the greatest implications of legal fatherhood. When a child has a legal father, the child is eligible for numerous financial benefits from him, such as health insurance coverage, inheritance rights, life insurance, and Social Security benefits.
The child also benefits by having a legal connection to their father, which can help to shape the child’s sense of identity and provide the stability gained by having two parents in their life.
Ways to Establish Paternity in Texas
There are a few ways in which a man may be designated as a child’s legal father in Texas. The option that is available to you will depend on the circumstances of your family’s situation.
The most common method of establishing paternity is through “presumed fatherhood.” A presumed father’s name may be added to the child’s birth certificate when the child is born without any further action required, and he is automatically recognized as the father until it’s confirmed or denied otherwise.
Under the Texas Family Code, a presumed father may be any of the following:
- The mother’s husband at the time of birth.
- A man who was married to the mother within 300 days of the child’s birth, in the case of a recent divorce.
- A man who continuously lived with the child and acted as the child’s father for the first two years of their life.
Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity
If the child’s biological father isn’t the presumed father, the parents have the option of signing a form called an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), which allows them to voluntarily establish the father’s paternity.
Signing the form is usually the easiest way for unmarried parents to establish paternity. However, both parents must agree to sign the form, so if either the mother or father is not willing to do so, then more complex routes must be pursued.
Seeking a Court Order
Sometimes, one parent may disagree with the other parent’s paternity claim. In these cases, the question of paternity will be left to the family court system.
The parent making the paternity claim must file a Petition to Adjudicate Paternity, and the other parent must be served with a legal notice to appear in court.
The court may order DNA testing of the child and the alleged father to determine the likelihood of a biological relationship before deciding whether to issue a paternity order.
Get Help From a Paternity Attorney in Your Neighborhood
At the Texas family law firm of Parker & Aguilar, we’ve helped countless mothers and potential fathers just like you seek favorable resolutions to their paternity cases
Serving families in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County, our team of family law attorneys is dedicated to providing you with compassionate counsel and aggressive advocacy. We’ll fight hard to protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
From Lake Jackson to Angleton to Pearland, we’re here for you when and where you need us in a range of family law practice areas. You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your situation.
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a paternity attorney who cares. We look forward to helping you find a solution that works for you.