If parents are married when a child is born, then paternity is determined automatically, and parents do not need to take extra steps to establish paternity. However, if the parents are not married, the father will need to establish paternity by filing a petition with the Office of the Attorney General. However, if the parents disagree over who the father is, then matters become even more complex, and the alleged father will need to take a paternity test.
The Love Ducote Law Firm – Dedicated to Helping Families in Texas
At The Love DuCote Law Firm, our family law attorneys are dedicated to helping families navigate the law. Whether you are fighting to establish paternity over your child or are a mother seeking support from your child’s father, we can help.
Men and women are equal under the law, and all decisions should be made based on the child’s best interests – we want to make sure that happens.
In order for a father’s rights and responsibilities to be established, such as the right to custody and the responsibility of financially contributing to a child’s upbringing, paternity must first be determined.
We will help you fight to establish paternity and will guide you through all family law matters that you may be faced with.
Arrange a consultation with an experienced family law attorney today at 832-843-1691.
How is Paternity Determined in Texas?
All children are born with a biological father, but if their parents are not married when they are born, then they will not be presumed to have a legal father. Instead, the parents will need to take steps to establish paternity in accordance with Texas law.
If the mother and father agree about paternity, then paternity can be established voluntarily. Voluntarily establishing paternity involves both parents signing an “Acknowledgment of Paternity,” which is often completed at the hospital where the child is born. It is also possible to complete the form later and mail it to the Texas Vital Statistics Unit in Austin.
You can obtain the Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital, the local birth registrar, the Vital Statistics Unit, and the Attorney General’s Child Support Office. Once it has been filed correctly, paternity will be established, and the father will have parental rights and responsibilities.
What Happens When Parents Do Not Agree on Paternity?
If parents do not agree on who the father of a child is, then paternity can be established involuntarily. Involuntary establishing paternity requires a court proceeding where the court issues an “order adjudicating parentage.”
When parties disagree, the father, the mother, the child, or the state, if the child is receiving public assistance, can file a “Petition to Adjudicate Parentage” in order to begin the process of establishing paternity. The petition must be filed in the county where the child lives.
Once a Petition has been filed, the father will receive a notice to appear in court. If they do not attend court on this date, then the Judge could enter them into a ‘default order’ declaring him to be the legal father. If their father appears in court, and both parents agree at this stage that he is the biological father, then the court will enter an order adjudicating parentage.
If the parents still disagree about paternity, then the court could order DNA testing. A DNA test involves a cheek swab of the mother, father, and child. The DNA test will then be analyzed by a lab to determine whether the alleged father is the biological father. If he is, his name will be added to the child’s birth certificate. At this point, the court may issue orders regarding child custody and visitation, and child support.
During court proceedings to establish paternity and family law issues such as custody and support, both parents have the right to legal representation. An attorney can help protect your rights and interests and will ensure that fair decisions are reached.
What Are The Benefits of Establishing Paternity?
Establishing paternity has many benefits for all parties involved.
- The Child – The child is given more certainty over their identity and heritage and benefits from the parent-child relationship. They could benefit from emotional support from their father, financial support, the right to inheritance, and knowledge regarding their family’s medical history. They may also benefit from certain benefits, such as medical insurance and life insurance benefits.
- The Child’s Mother – The mother gains a person to share parental responsibilities with, including dividing time spent as the child’s main caregiver and financial support.
- The Father – The child’s legal father gains legal rights, such as the right to spend time with their child as their main caregiver. They may also gain the right to make important decisions regarding their child’s life, such as where they go to school and where they receive medical care. As the father, you may also be required to pay child support.
In accordance with Texas family law, decisions must be made based on children’s best interests. That means that once paternity has been determined, a joint custody arrangement is usually put in place so that the child can benefit from a relationship with both parents.
However, if you are concerned that your child’s other parent poses a risk to their wellbeing, then you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. We will help you to evidence your claims to a Judge so that they are considered when determining child custody. They may order supervised visitation, or you could be granted sole parental rights and responsibilities.
How is Paternity Determined in Texas? FAQs
If you are not the biological father but want to secure parental rights, then you will need to formally adopt the child. Adoption cases are highly emotional and complex, and you should speak to an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process.
If you are the presumed father, but you do not believe you are the father, then you will need to challenge paternity through adjudication and court order before the child reaches the age of four.
Once a child support order has been issued by the court, it must be adhered to, even if you are questioning paternity. Even if it turns out you are not the father, you will still owe all backdated payments.
A swab from the father, the child, and the child’s mother will be sent to a lab for DNA sequencing, which will look for genetic matches. A match confirms paternity and is nearly 100% accurate.
In Texas, child support is usually paid until the child turns 18 or until they graduate from school, whichever comes later. However, if the child has the need for ongoing care due to mental or physical incapacity, then child support will need to continue to be paid until the court orders a termination.
The mother, alleged father, child, or the state can file a Petition with the court asking for a paternity test, and if the father refuses, then the court can order them to take the test.
Contact Our Paternity Lawyer in Fort Bend County Today
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we are committed to helping families in Texas. We have a long list of happy clients to draw upon and will work tirelessly to secure a positive outcome in your case.