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Lawful Fatherhood: Understanding Texas Paternity

Becoming a parent is a huge honor as well as a huge responsibility, and in the state of Texas, establishing who a child’s father is can look like a number of different ways. When a couple is married and has a child, the husband is automatically named the child’s father and his name is put on the birth certificate.

But what about when a couple isn’t married, or a man denies that he’s the child’s father although the mother is certain he is? These situations can get a little more complex, so Texas has developed specific guidelines for establishing paternity.

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An Overview Of The Process

If a couple is married and has a child in Texas, they don’t have to go through any steps to establish paternity. The father’s name goes on the birth certificate and he is automatically entitled to the benefits and responsibilities of being a father. In any other situation, even if a couple has been together for years yet are not married, a formal process has to be followed to establish paternity for the child.

This is done with a form called an Acknowledgement of Paternity. When both parties agree who the father of the child is, both the mother and father sign this form and mail it to the Vital Statistics Unit in Austin. This document confirms the parental responsibilities of the father and allows his name to be placed on the child’s birth certificate.

What if the mother isn’t sure who the father of her child is, or the man that she knows to be the father insists that he is not? This situation would require the court to be involved, and the process would start with an involuntary court order. One of the involved parties can file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage, and this will require the father in question to appear in court. If he does not show up, the judge has the right to automatically declare that he is the father.

Sometimes the court will request DNA testing if there is a dispute about who the child’s father is. Once the results come back, the judge again can make a ruling that declares who fathered the child and will place his name on the birth certificate. During this time in court, parents can also arrange custody schedules and child support orders.

Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?

Both the child and the father benefit from having a clear line of paternity set in place. The father will be allowed the rights to custody and the ability to weigh in on important decisions, as well as get the opportunity to be involved in their child’s life.

Children not only obviously benefit from having a father figure, no matter what level of involvement he might take, but also can have the benefit of knowing their familial health history and can take advantage of medical or governmental benefits.

If you live in Texas and have questions about establishing the paternity of your child, contact Goldsberry & Associates today. We work with clients to make sure everyone’s needs are met and can help you with the outcome you desire.

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