What Is Paternity?
Paternity is the term for legal fatherhood. Establishing legal fatherhood is essential for the child’s well-being for several reasons. A child’s legal parent has a right to a relationship with the child. A child’s legal parent also has a duty to help support the child and can be required to pay child support. You should consult Texas paternity attorneys to understand the rights and responsibilities of legal parenthood under Texas law.
Sometimes paternity is mistakenly assumed. If a person believes they are the father, they may take on support obligations under a mistaken understanding of their biological relationship with a child. If you are in this situation, our Houston father’s rights lawyers can find the best solution for you.
How to Establish Paternity in Texas
A father has no automatic paternity unless the parents are married when the child is born. If the parents are not married, the father must legally establish paternity. There are several ways to establish paternity in Texas, which we generally describe below. Our Houston paternity attorney can discuss your case more specifically.
Presumption of Paternity
Texas law presumes that a man is the legal father of a child in certain circumstances. A presumption means the law automatically assigns the rights and obligations to a person if they meet certain criteria.
However, a presumed father can challenge a presumption in court if they have evidence that they are not the child’s biological father. Speak with Texas father’s rights attorneys for more information on paternity presumptions.
Paternity Through Marriage
Texas law presumes that a child born during the marriage is the husband’s legal child. This means that the husband automatically becomes the legal father unless it is specifically challenged. Also, if the child is born within 301 days of the husband’s death or the end of the marriage, that child is presumed to be his legal child.
Acting As the Father in the Child’s First Two Years
Additionally, a presumption applies to someone who lives with the child for the first two years and tells people he’s the child’s father. The law obligates a person who holds himself out to the world as the child’s father during this formative period.
Acknowledgment of Paternity
Another way to establish paternity is to file an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP). The parents can do this before the child is born and anytime after birth. Hospital staff can provide this at the time of birth. Both parents must sign and file the AOP with a specified Texas government-certified agency.
The parents can establish paternity through a court order. In a paternity lawsuit, a court decides the child’s paternity based on evidence, typically DNA testing results. A court will order a paternity test if one of the parents denies paternity. A paternity case also resolves other paternity issues, such as child custody (conservatorship), visitation, and child support. Paternity is often established as a part of a child support proceeding. The parties can settle the case anytime before the court makes a final decision.
Why Is Paternity Important?
Paternity legally establishes a relationship between the father and child. The legal father’s name will appear on the child’s birth certificate. A legal parent has legal relationship rights with the child and also has an obligation to provide financial support. Plus, a legal child may be entitled to inheritance and other benefits under the law.
Establishing paternity also helps the child access important information. Knowing your biological parents allows them to find out about their family’s medical background and family history.
Who Can Bring a Paternity Case?
Several parties may bring a case to establish paternity. They include:
- The child,
- The child’s mother,
- A man who believes he is the father of the child,
- A man who was incorrectly presumed to be the father of the child, and
- The State of Texas, if the mother receives public assistance.
Speak with our Texas paternity lawyers to see if you can bring a paternity suit.
How Our Houston Paternity Lawyer Can Help You
Establishing paternity is not always easy. Litigating paternity involves understanding the nuances of Texas family law and navigating potential conflicts. Our Houston paternity attorneys are well-versed in family law. We represent parents on either side of paternity cases.
We understand that it’s crucial for a person to know their legal rights and responsibilities, especially if it involves parenthood. Contact us today for more information on paternity.