Establishing paternity is extremely important for a number of reasons and is more than simply having your name on your child’s birth certificate. When paternity is established for a child, it gives the father of the child fathers rights. These rights include the right to custody and visitation that allow them to maintain a parent-child relationship, even after a divorce. It can also mean that the child’s father is legally obligated to pay child support if they do not become the primary custodian. They may also be required to provide medical support if it is available at a reasonable cost.
Establishing paternity is automatic if the parents are married when the mother gives birth. With unmarried parents, there are additional steps that need to be followed for the alleged father to be named the legal father of the child.
The Love Ducote Law Firm – Paternity Rights Divorce Lawyers
Here at The Love Ducote Law Firm, our family law attorneys are dedicated to the protection of the rights of our clients, be they the father or the child’s mother. When it comes to family law in Texas, fathers and mothers have equal rights, and this means that they have equal chances at fighting for things like child custody.
However, for the father to have these paternity rights, they must be the named legal father, and if you need help establishing paternity in Texas, we are here to help. Equally, if you are in denial of paternity and believe you are not the legal father of the child, we can help you determine the true paternity through DNA testing.
We always put the needs of any children involved before all else, and this means making decisions that are in their best interests. Children have a better chance at healthy development when they have access to both their parents following a divorce, and unless there is a reason to prohibit access, this is what we will fight for.
What Does Paternity Mean in Family Law in Texas?
Paternity is often a hotly debated topic that families deal with when it comes to family law. Whether your goal is to become the established father legally or to figure out if you are indeed the biological, legal father, your best option is to seek legal representation from a family law firm that has experience in cases like yours.
Paternity, in a legal sense, is determining which man is the child’s legal father, the father that gains the legal rights that fathers have in terms of their children.
Every child has a biological father, but if parents were not married when the child was born, then they will not be automatically added to the child’s birth certificate and will not become the legal father automatically. If parents are married when the child is born, the presumed father will automatically be added to the birth certificate, meaning they will automatically become the legal father.
How Do You Establish Paternity in Texas?
Sometimes, a father wants to be named as the legal father to their child, but their ex-spouse is not willing to accept, and it can be much more difficult. When this happens, you will need to seek legal representation that can help you establish paternity.
There are two methods for establishing paternity:
Establishing Paternity When Both Parents Agree
In cases where both spouses fully agree on the fact that the father is indeed the biological father, they can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, which is a document signed by each party. This is usually done at the hospital after the birth, but it can also be done by signing the agreement and sending it to the Vital Statistics Unit.
The documents that need to be signed by both parents can be obtained at the hospital or at the Attorneys General Child Support Office. It can also be obtained at the local birth registrar.
Once this document has been signed and accepted, the father becomes the legal father by law and gains all the legal rights that a legal father is entitled to.
Establishing Paternity When Parents Disagree
When one parent is disputing paternity, paternity will need to be established through a court order. The process in this situation is to file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage. This is done in the court that has jurisdiction in the county where the child resides.
If it is the mother that is filing the petition, and the father is disputing paternity, then the father must appear in court, or the Judge can automatically default the order, declaring him the legal father.
If there is any question of the true biological father, the courts have the power to order a DNA test which can be done through a cheek swab. If the father is denying paternity, but the swab comes back positive, he will be named as the legal father. The same is true if the mother denies the father is the biological father, but the DNA test confirms he is in fact the father.
Both parties have the legal right to obtain representation for the proceedings.
Why Does Paternity Matter?
Establishing paternity is an important part of family law in Texas because it provides legal certainty to a child’s identity and provides them with certain rights. Paternity establishes the legal father of a child and gives the father certain rights and obligations. For example, establishing paternity allows the father to have a say in the child’s life, such as being able to make decisions regarding education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
The father will also have the right to seek visitation and custody rights if necessary. Paternity also gives the child certain rights, such as the right to receive child support, access to health and life insurance benefits, social security benefits, and inheritance rights.
In addition, the child will have access to information about their medical history and genetic background. Finally, establishing paternity can also be beneficial for the mother. Establishing paternity can help the mother in obtaining a court order for child support and health insurance benefits, as well as other financial assistance.
It becomes a much more complex case when a man wants to be named as the legal father when they are not the biological father. In these cases, the non-biological parent will need to adopt the child legally to gain legal fathers’ rights.
If you believe you deserve to be the legal father of your non-biological son, you will need to speak to a skilled attorney who can help you fight your case in family law court.
What Are the Legal Father’s Rights?
As a legal father, you gain the right to retain custody of a child and continue to be involved in their life, the right to inherit property, the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing, the right to sign contracts on behalf of the child, the right to seek legal counsel on behalf of the child, and the right to appoint a legal guardian in the event of the passing of both parents.
All family law courts and Judges in Texas will make their decisions based on what they believe to be in the best interests of the children involved in a case. This means that they will usually prefer to issue child custody orders that contain arrangements that give both parents visitation rights to their kids.
However, if you believe that your ex-spouse is an unfit parent, and may pose a danger to your child, the courts will always listen. If this is the case, you must speak to an attorney who can help you put forward your case. You will need to be able to provide evidence of why you suspect your ex-spouse is a danger, and they will be able to help you put together that information.
It is a common misconception that mothers have more rights when it comes to custody, but if you are the father of your child, you have the same rights, and if you suspect the mother of your child is a danger to their wellbeing, we can help.
Texas Family Law Attorneys
If you are a father worried about your paternity rights in Texas, seeking skilled and capable legal representation from a family law firm that has extensive experience in handling cases similar to yours is a smart idea.
If you are named as the child’s legal father, there are a number of legal obligations placed upon you, such as the right to visitation and the obligation to pay child support. These obligations could affect you for the rest of your life.
Once a child support order is in place, it must be adhered to, no matter the circumstances. Even if you question paternity and it turns out that you are not the father, although your child support order may end, you will still owe any backdated payments that you missed.
If you are the presumed father, but you do not believe you are the biological father, then you can challenge paternity through adjudication. However, you must take action before the child reaches the age of four.
Once paternity has been established, the father may then be required to pay child support. In Texas, a child support order will be in place until the child turns 18 or until they graduate from school, whichever comes later. However, if the child has a mental or physical disability and requires ongoing care, then child support may need to be paid indefinitely or until the court orders a termination.
A paternity test takes a swab from the father, mother, and child, which is then sent to the lab for DNA sequencing. DNA sequencing identifies genetic matches and is 99.9% accurate.
Contact The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC Today
Often, when a divorce happens, there are questions of paternity, and this can make the process more complex than a typical divorce.
In some cases, the father wants to be named as the legal father, but the parents were not married when the child was born. In others, the father may dispute that they are in fact the legal father and should not be obligated to carry on supporting the child after the marriage.
Whatever the issue is, the team here at The Love Ducote Law Firm is ready to help. We always take the time to listen to our clients and their stories. We provide a compassionate ear when our clients need it most, and work hard to build a trust-inspiring client-attorney relationship.
We will fight tirelessly to help you obtain the results you desire and will ensure your rights as a father are protected.