Man holding a child after resolving disputed paternity case in Texas

What You Need to Know About Disputed Paternity Cases

Disputed paternity cases are among the most complicated family law matters in Texas. There are many legal issues to sort through, and these types of cases are rarely cut and dry.

There are two sides of the coin that could be involved in a dispute over paternity and parental rights. You could be the presumed father involved in your child’s life, and now someone else is disputing parentage. Or, you may be on the outside looking in, believing that you are the biological father of a child, and now you want to prove your paternity.

Whatever side you fall on, I can provide legal support to help you navigate the legal complexities of protecting or obtaining your parental rights. Let’s take a deeper look into how disputed paternity cases work in Texas.

Need immediate support with a legal dispute over paternity? Call my offices right away to discuss your case and find legal support from a family law expert.

The Legal Basics of Disputed Paternity Cases

Let’s review three common questions about the legal issues involved in a disputed paternity case.

1. What is Paternity, and How is it Established?

Paternity simply means fatherhood, and establishing paternity determines a child’s “legal” father. This includes the father’s obligations and rights.

  • If the parents are married to one another when a child is born, paternity is automatically established in Texas. Therefore, the husband is legally considered the child’s legitimate father, and his name goes on the birth certificate.
  • However, if a child is born to unmarried parents, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established.

In the case of unclear paternity, the man who believes that he is the father of the child must establish paternity. Then, the father will have certain rights to the child, and his name will go on the birth certificate.

To establish paternity, a simple DNA test is required. The test is often done with a blood test that is inexpensive and easy to take. If the test displays at least a 99 percent probability that the male is the father, the court will name him the child’s legal father.

2. What Happens If There is a Dispute Over Paternity?

When another person disputes paternity, it becomes a matter of the court. The mother, the child (if at a certain age), the current father, the disputed father, or the state is able to begin the court process by filing a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage. The court will issue what’s called an order adjudicating parentage to begin the review process formally.

– If the presumed father receives appropriate notice of the court proceeding but does not appear in court, the judge can enter a “default order” in his absence, which will declare him the legal father.

– If the presumed father does appear in court, the court will typically grant an immediate order adjudicating parentage. This is only if the parents agree that the father is the biological father.

– If either parent declines or is unsure of the paternity, the court can order DNA testing. Once DNA testing is complete, if the court decides the father is indeed the biological father, they will issue an order adjudicating parentage. This will make the father the “legal” father, adding his name to the child’s birth certificate.

The court may also issue orders of visitation, child support, and custody within the court proceeding to establish the parental requirements for the father.

3. What Happens in the Event of Mistaken Paternity?

In the case of mistaken paternity, there are specific legal guidelines set by the state of Texas. For example, if you have been ordered to pay child support for a child that you do not believe you are the father of, you must take a genetic test to support your claim.

The court will hold a pre-trial hearing to determine whether you meet the legal requirements to proceed with the genetic test. If the requirements are met, the court will order both the legal father and the child to submit to genetic testing.

If the results show that the legal father is not the child’s biological father, the court will terminate the parent-child relationship and child support obligations. However, the presumed father is still responsible for all unpaid child support and interest until the date of termination.

Find Support with a Disputed Paternity Case in Texas

A disputed parentage case can quickly become overwhelming no matter what side you’re on. You will want to work with an expert in Texas family law to support your case:

  • If you believe that you’re the rightful parent to a child and someone else is trying to dispute your standing
  • If you want to establish parentage and challenge someone else’s position as the parent of a child that you believe is yours
  • If you received a petition to adjudicate parentage for your child

In addition to supporting your parental rights, the livelihood and future of your child are at stake. So, let’s get to work on your case. I have successfully helped fathers in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County navigate the legal complexities of disputed paternity cases. I will serve as a zealous advocate for your position.

If you live in one of these Texas counties, then call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your disputed paternity case. I’ll help you arrive at the best possible outcome for you and your child.