What You Need to Know About Establishing Paternity in Texas
Paternity means legal fatherhood. At birth, the law automatically recognizes the two legal parents of a child, the husband and wife. For married couples, paternity is that simple. There are no additional legal steps needed.
However, when a child is born to parents who aren’t married to one another, the law doesn’t automatically recognize the biological father as the legal parent. This means that the biological father has no legal rights to his child until paternity is legally established.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
There are many benefits to a biological father establishing paternity to his child. Without establishing paternity, they have no legal right to their own child. Benefits include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Legal father’s name can be placed on the child’s birth certificate;
- Child and father will have a legal connection;
- Paternity must be established for the court to order child support, cash medical support, or health care coverage;
- Access of the child to the father’s family medical history; and
- Paternity must be established to request custody or parenting time.
Because there are certain benefits to establishing paternity, it’s easy to see why a father would want to do so. There are three ways to establish paternity in Texas:
- Marriage – If a couple is legally married at the time of the child’s birth and the husband is the biological father of the child, he will automatically be the presumed legal father. No further steps are needed to establish paternity for married couples.
- Acknowledgment of Paternity – When parents who are not married have a child together, the mother and father can sign a legal form called an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or AOP, as long as they both agree that he is the biological father of the child. An AOP can be changed for up to 60 days after the document is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statics. Either the mother or father may request to rescind their signature by filing a motion with the court.
- Court Order – Unmarried parents of a child who do not agree with paternity of a child or who do not sign an AOP at the birth of the child can get a court order naming the legal father of the child. Either parent can do this by filing a paternity suit in court.
An additional form, called a Denial of Paternity, must be signed by a husband of a woman who gives birth if he is not the biological father. It can also be signed by a man who is not married to the mother of the child, is not the father of the child, or if the child is born within 300 days of the date of a divorce.
Contact a Texas Attorney for Help
If you are being faced with paternity issues in Texas, the attorneys at Lindamood & Robinson, P.C. answer your questions. We have decades of experience helping their clients ensure that their rights are protected. If you are the father of a child and want visitation, if you are being accused of fathering a child that you believe isn’t yours, or any other type of paternity issues, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.