Father in need of paternity legal advice hugging his daughter

Need Paternity Legal Advice? We Will Protect Your Rights

Texas courts believe that parents have the right to be involved in their children’s lives and that a child has the right to develop a relationship with both parents. However, in some circumstances, the courts may decide to intervene to protect the child’s interest.

Whether you are a man trying to establish paternity, trying to fend off someone else claiming to be the father of a child, or trying to prove that you are not the father of a child, it’s important to seek sound counsel to help you arrive at the best possible outcome.

Learn more about the benefits of obtaining paternity legal advice from Texas family law attorneys to support your interests.

How Paternity Works Legally in Texas

Legally speaking, the term “paternity” refers to legal fatherhood. When a baby is born to married parents, the law automatically recognizes the husband and wife as the parents of a child. So, married couples do not need to take any more legal steps to establish paternity in Texas.

However, if a baby is born to parents who aren’t married to each other, the law does not automatically recognize the presumed biological father as a legal parent. So, if he isn’t married to the mother when the child is born, he doesn’t have any legal rights until he becomes a legal parent. He must take steps to establish paternity.

The Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Texas

By establishing paternity, unmarried parents can give legal rights and privileges of their children to the biological father. For children, it can have the following benefits:

  • The child will know who his or her father is.
  • The child will have a connection with the father’s side of the family.
  • Supports the emotional bond between a father and his child.
  • Gives the child a sense of identity and connection to an extended family.

Some of the benefits for mothers can include the following:

  • Establishes the child’s legal right to his or her father.
  • Makes the child’s father legally responsible.
  • Simplifies the process of ordering child support, custody, or parenting time.
  • Allows the child to become eligible for the father’s inheritance, medical benefits, Social Security, and veteran benefits.

Fathers can also benefit from legal paternity in the following ways:

  • Your name can appear on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Establishes your legal connection to the child.
  • Gives you the legal right to care for your child.
  • Allows you to ask for your child’s school and medical records.
  • Enables you to ask the court for custody, parenting time, or more information on how to pay child support.

If you need paternity legal advice, be sure to speak with a qualified family law attorney for more information or advice.

How to Establish Paternity in Texas

You can establish paternity in three ways in Texas.

1. Voluntary Paternity Establishment

Parents sign a free legal document called an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP), and it’s the most common way to establish paternity. When the child is born, you can ask hospital staff about the AOP, which you can sign anytime by working with an AOP-certified entity. Both parents must also show a valid form of identification to complete this process.

2. Agreed Paternity Order

Both parents and a judge sign a legal agreement that states who the child’s father is. They must agree to specific legal rights about child custody, visitation, child support, and medical support.

This approach will not only establish legal paternity for the father but will also establish any legal rights with regard to custody, visitation, child support, and medical care.

  • You can submit an agreed paternity on your own or with the support of an attorney.
  • You can also contact the Child Support division at the Office of the Attorney General.

3. Court-Ordered Paternity

This is a court order that resolves paternity when parents cannot agree on the father’s identity. Like the previous method, it will establish the father’s legal rights as well as any rights with regard to custody, visitation, child support, and medical care.

  • You can pursue this on your own, or you can find help from a private attorney.
  • You can also get in touch with the Child Support division at the Office of the Attorney General.

What About a Paternity Test?

If you’re unsure about your legal right to paternity, you can always take a paternity test. Or, if you want to fend off someone else from claiming to be the father of a child or want to prove that you are not the father of a child (legally known as mistaken paternity), you can pursue this option to find the answer.

A paternity test is a form of genetic testing performed in a lab accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The Office of the Attorney General offers free DNA tests as part of support services. However, over-the-counter tests are typically not allowed as evidence in court.

Rights of a Legal Father in Texas

Once paternity has been filed with the court, the Texas Family Code gives legal fathers rights and duties concerning their children. Both the mother and the father have these legal rights and responsibilities unless a court order is issued to modify them.

For example, legal fathers in the state of Texas have the right to physical possession of their children. They also have the right to direct their child’s moral and religious upbringing. This includes the right to make medical decisions, express treatment preferences, decide on education options, and make many other decisions related to their child’s needs. All of this comes as part of the rights a legal father has over raising his child.

Legal fathers will also have a number of duties concerning their child, which are specified in the Texas Family Code. They have the legal duty to care for their child. This includes providing clothing, food, shelter, medical, and dental care. These duties also include the responsibility of educating and protecting the child, as well as enacting a reasonable amount of discipline.

Find Paternity Legal Advice Specific to Your Case

Knowing how paternity works in Texas is half the battle. The other half is seeing how the law applies to your case. At Parker & Aguilar, we can help you throughout the entire process so that you can achieve your paternity goals.

When you need paternity legal advice, contact our local family law attorneys to walk you through the legalities of your case. Our team of experienced legal professionals can speak with you about your specific needs.

We represent fathers in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our Angleton office at 979-267-7660 or our Sugar Land office at 281-944-5485 to schedule a consultation with our team. We look forward to helping you identify the best paternity action to take.