Being legally recognized as the parent of a child can be an exciting time in a father’s life. You have the opportunity to establish a relationship with your child and be present in some of the most important moments of their lives.
To obtain legal rights to create a relationship with your child, you must obtain an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). Let’s review the keys to an Acknowledgement of Paternity Texas residents need to be aware of as part of the paternity legal process.
Acknowledgement of Paternity Texas: What You Need to Know
An AOP is a legal document that will allow unmarried parents to have legal paternity over their child. It’s an important step in making sure that the child can access all the rights and privileges that are associated with having a “legally recognized father.”
This form can be filled out by both biological parents, who must sign the document in front of a witness or notary public. Once the document is signed, the AOP becomes legally binding and establishes the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.
An Acknowledgement of Paternity also grants certain rights to the legal father (such as being able to make decisions about the education and health care needs of the child). You will have access to the child’s medical records, and you will assume certain financial responsibilities (such as providing financial support for the child until he or she becomes an adult).
Tip: Unmarried parents must understand that completing an AOP does not automatically give them any parental rights or responsibilities. You must go through the court system to obtain child custody and visitation rights, but completing an AOP is an important first step in the paternity process to establish a legally recognized father.
How to File an Acknowledgment of Paternity in Texas
Signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity in Texas requires the right support to establish paternity. To complete and file an AOP, both parents must work with an AOP-certified entity that has been approved by the Office of the Attorney General in Texas.
If you need help completing the Acknowledgement of Paternity form (or if the other parent is in the military, in jail, or living in a different area), you can submit your request online or call the AOP Hotline at 866-255-2006. You can also find an AOP-certified entity near you for local support.
Once the required documents have been completed and signed by both parents, they must be filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit within a year. Once this office receives your submission, they will issue a new birth certificate that includes the names of both parents.
What About a “Presumed Father” Situation?
Sometimes, there is a curveball involved in these proceedings if the “presumed father” is not the actual biological father. In the state of Texas, the presumed father is a man who has been legally recognized to be the father of a child, even if he’s not the biological father. This type of legal recognition can be established in several different ways.
- If the man is married to the mother, he’s considered to be the “presumed father” of any children during that marriage.
- If the mother was married to a man within 300 days before the birth of her child, that man also becomes the presumed father.
- If a man has continuously lived with and represented himself as the child’s father for at least two years after he or she was born, he is considered to be the presumed father.
Presumed fathers have certain rights and responsibilities with regard to their children. They’re responsible for providing financial support for their children. They may also have visitation or custody rights. In some cases, they may even have the authority to make parental decisions over certain matters (such as education and medical care).
If you believe that you are the biological father of a child – and not the presumed father – then you will need legal support navigating this paternity issue. We recommend immediately working with a family law attorney to discuss your situation to determine the best course of action.
One course of action could be working with the other parent to file legal paperwork that denies the presumed father’s paternity.
When the Mother is Married to Someone Who is Not the Biological Father
A mother being married to someone who is not the biological father of her child can be hard for everyone involved. In this particular situation, both the mother and her spouse must complete the “Denial of Paternity” section of the AOP form to establish actual paternity.
This section will require relevant parties to sign an affidavit that says they’re not the biological parent of the child. Once this form has been completed, paternity can be established through other means (such as DNA testing or other legal documents).
Again, you will need to work with a family law attorney who understands the Texas Family Code for establishing parentage. An attorney can help you address this challenging situation, work toward a resolution, and obtain a court order.
Work With a Family Law Attorney to Support Your Paternity Case
Filing an AOP in Texas is a straightforward way for unmarried couples to obtain legal recognition for their child and to protect their parental rights. However, not everything is as simple as it sounds.
The legal process in Texas can be challenging, with various legal hurdles to overcome on the path to establishing a legal relationship with your child. That’s where our seasoned attorneys at Parker & Aguilar come into play.
We will serve as a fierce advocate on your behalf to support your goals. We will work tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for you and your child.
We currently support fathers in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our offices to discuss your paternity case.
You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with a local attorney who cares about your situation. We have the tools for an Acknowledgement of Paternity Texas fathers can utilize on their behalf.