There are several ways in which a man can become a father of a child and establish paternity in Texas. First, a man can be presumed to be the father under the Texas Family Code. This presumption is created if a man is married to the child’s mother and the child is born either during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated. This presumption of paternity in Texas can be attacked by a suit to establish parentage or the filing of a valid denial of fatherhood and an acknowledgement of paternity (AOP) by another person.
A man can also become a father in Texas if he files an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). The AOP must be signed by both the child’s mother and father and filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS). Filing a signed AOP is a way to determine paternity in Texas instead of filing a lawsuit to determine the child’s father. In situations where the child does not a presumed father under the Texas Family Code, such as where the man and woman were never married to each other, the signed AOP is effective on the date the document is filed with the BVS.
Effective Acknowledgement of Paternity in Texas
To be valid, an AOP must:
1. be “in a record”;
2. be signed or authenticated under penalty of perjury by both the mother of child and the man acknowledging paternity;
3. state that the child does not have either a presumed father, an adjudicated father or another acknowledged father;
4. state whether genetic testing has been done and, if testing has been done, that the man’s claim for paternity is consistent with the test results; and
5. state that the man and the mother of the child understand that the AOP has the same effect as a court’s finding of paternity and that challenging an AOP is allowed in only certain cases.
Denial of Paternity in Texas
A presumed father can also sign a denial of paternity in Texas. Similar to the effect of an AOP, a denial of paternity by a man, along with another man’s acknowledgement of paternity, has the effect of a court ruling of paternity. As a result, a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father will release that man from all of the rights and duties of a parent. To be an effective denial of paternity under the Texas Family Code, the following requirements must be met:
1. A valid AOP is filed by another man;
2. The denial of paternity must be in a record, signed by another man and filed;
3. The presumed father has not done an AOP previously and has not been adjudicated to be the father by a Texas family court.
If you have questions about acknowledgement of paternity in Texas or denials of paternity, contact The Larson Law Office at 713.221.9088 to discuss your issue with our Houston family lawyers.