Establishing paternity is essential to any father-child relationship. Not only does it formalize the sacred bond of a parent and child, but it also establishes legal rights and responsibilities. If you’re thinking of filing a paternity case, you might have questions. A common question is, Do I need to find a paternity lawyer based in the same county as the mother? The experienced family lawyers at The Larson Law Office are here to answer this and all paternity-related questions you might have.
Paternity in Texas
To understand whether you need a lawyer in the county where your child’s mother resides, you must first understand paternity in Texas. Paternity is legal fatherhood which is different from biological fatherhood. Texas law dictates how someone becomes a legal father.
When a child is born to married parents, Texas law presumes that the husband is the legal father of that child. This is the only situation where legal fatherhood is automatically established in Texas. The husband immediately and automatically receives all of the rights and obligations of fatherhood when he is married to the child’s mother, unless that is specifically challenged.
Establishing Paternity When You’re Not Married to the Mother
Acknowledgment of Paternity
The simplest way to establish paternity when you are not married to your child’s mother is through an Acknowledgment of Paternity. You can fill out and sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital when your child is born, or you and the child’s mother can sign this form anytime before or after the birth. The Attorney General’s Office can help you find a place to file an Acknowledgement of Paternity near you.
File a Paternity Case
Another way to establish paternity is by filing a paternity case with the courts. The court will determine whether you are the father in a paternity case. Often, this involves DNA testing and other testimonial evidence. Once a court determines paternity, the judge will likely also decide on issues like child custody, visitation, and child support.
Under Texas law, you must file a paternity petition in the county where the child resides. This is because the paternity case affects the child-parent relationship.
Does My Lawyer Need to Be in the Same County As the Child’s Mother?
A Texas paternity petition must be filed in the child’s county of residence. If the child resides with the mother, you’ll have to file the petition in their county of residence. If the child lives somewhere else, you’ll have to file your case in that county. Therefore, if your child and the mother live separately, you should hire an attorney in the county where your child lives because that is where the case will be heard.
If you are trying to establish paternity in Texas, you’ll need to consult with a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in Texas. State laws differ when it comes to paternity. In addition, having a lawyer with experience in the county where the child resides is beneficial. Each county’s courts have their own procedural rules, and all judges are different. An experienced Texas family lawyer who serves the specific county will be familiar with the procedural rules and even familiar with most of the family court judges. Any reputable local lawyer can be a great benefit to your case. They know what works and doesn’t work in certain jurisdictions and courtrooms—and will likely already have established working relationships and a good reputation with local attorneys and judges.
Consult with The Larson Law Office
The Larson Law Office knows how important family law matters are, especially paternity issues. Our family lawyers are deeply knowledgeable about Texas family law, including paternity, custody, and child support. We are passionate about helping our clients, and we pride ourselves on personal one-on-one attention. We regularly represent clients in many counties in and around the greater Houston area. Contact us today for help with your paternity case.