The rules and instructions for a legally-ordered paternity test in Texas, just like everywhere else in the United States, can be challenging to process and understand. If you are an unmarried man or a married father who is facing a contested paternity situation, always speak to an attorney first before taking any actions, such as taking a paternity test. The results can have far-reaching ramifications, especially when it comes to child support.
If you find yourself facing a paternity case, it is wise to seek immediate legal help from a family law attorney. I can help. Call my offices to discuss. In the interim, read on to learn more about what needs to happen when a paternity test is legally required for a child support case in Texas.
How Do Child Support Cases Work in Texas Family Law Court?
When the parents of a child who do not live together, whether married or not, cannot reach a financial agreement about how much to contribute to the child’s care, the Texas Family Court will step in to determine what that fair amount should be.
The court will use several factors, including living situation and each parent’s income, to determine who gets custody of the child. Whoever the child lives with is known as the Custodial Parent. Then, the parent paying child support is known as the Non-Custodial Parent.
The income of the Non-Custodial parent determines child support payments. The Custodial parent’s contribution to child support is considered to be the everyday expenses incurred from having the child live with them, such as phone bills, clothing, snacks, and other things.
The court will place a maximum cap of 20 percent of the Non-Custodial parent’s income for one child. This rate increases depending on how many children are involved, and can be altered if the Non-Custodial parent has other children that are not a part of the current case.
How Texas Courts View the Rights of a Non-Custodial Parent in Child Support Cases
In Texas law, child support rights can be difficult to understand, so please read this information carefully. The simple fact that you have children doesn’t automatically give you custodial rights. The mother and father’s rights are considered to be automatically established if the child is born to married parents, but even sometimes that can be called into question if adultery has been committed.
If the child is born to unmarried parents, Texas Law does not automatically recognize the father as having legal parental rights until a paternity test has been completed or an acknowledgement of paternity has been signed. Do NOT sign an acknowledgment of paternity without taking a DNA test, as it is a legal document that will establish paternity and can be difficult to overturn if it turns out that the man is not the father.
Texas has passed laws stating that there is “no preference” when it comes to determining who will be the Custodial or Non-Custodial Parent. If you are the father, you do have rights, but those rights need to be established and exercised properly. Both the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Texas have been vigilant in upholding fathers’ parental and custodial rights.
When Would the Court Order a Man to Take a Paternity Test?
A key consideration in this situation is when the court will order a man to take a paternity test to establish whether he is the child’s biological father in a custody case. The question of paternity will normally come up when there are issues involving child support or questions about the biological paternity of a child.
If the mother petitions to receive child support, then the Texas Family Court will determine if a paternity test is necessary. In some but not all cases, a Texas Family Court will order a paternity test to prove once and for all if the man is the father of the child in question.
This is why I recommend consulting with me as quickly as you can to protect your rights. I aim to provide fathers or potential fathers with the needed peace of mind while answering your questions before submitting to a paternity test.
What Happens if a Man is Proven to Be the Father?
You may also want to know what happens if the paternity test does indeed reveal that you are the father of a child. Does that make you automatically responsible for providing child support? What about your rights as a father?
The answer is that you will be responsible for child support. The court will determine the amount, which is why you need to work with a family law attorney to help you arrive at a fair amount of child support to provide to the Custodial parent.
Additionally, once paternity has been confirmed, fathers are granted many legal rights to the child, including:
- The child will know whether or not you are their real father
- The father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate
- Legal and visitation rights can be fully established
- Inheritance rights for the child
- Bonding with your child
Blair Parker Can Help You With Legal Paternity Issues
Your parental rights need to be protected in order for you to receive fair treatment in court. Family law is my specialty, and I’ve helped fathers in Texas resolve paternity issues. Your first consultation with me will prove to you that I am on your side and that I know the ins and outs of the Texas Family Court system.
Call my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to discuss your situation. I help fathers and potential fathers with paternity cases in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. Find the support you need during this challenging time.