How to Establish Paternity in Texas
If you are seeking child support or need to get an order in place for possession and access to your children, it is important to first establish the paternity of the child. A court cannot require a man who has not been acknowledged as the child’s father to pay child support or to receive possession and access. The following article will provide some helpful information regarding how to establish paternity in the state of Texas.
What is Paternity?
Paternity describes the legal identification of a child’s father. When the paternity of a child is established, the father can then acquire all of the rights and duties of a parent.
Presumption of Paternity
One way to establish paternity in Texas is by establishing a presumption of paternity. For example, when two people are legally married, there is a presumption of paternity regarding any children born during that marriage. In other words, if two people are married, there is a presumption that any children born during that marriage belong to the husband. This presumption remains valid unless and until someone challenges the paternity of the presumed father.
There are various ways to establish the presumption of paternity:
The presumed father was married to the child’s mother when the child was born;
The presumed father was married to the child’s mother any time during the 300 days before the child was born;
The presumed father married the child’s mother after the child was born and voluntarily claimed paternity of the child with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit, on the child’s birth certificate, or in an official record in which he promised to support the child as his own; or
The presumed father continuously lived with the child and represented to others that the child was his own for the first two years of the child’s life.
Another way to establish paternity for unmarried parents is to petition the court to issue a court order naming the legal father. Either parent can request this kind of court order by contacting the Texas OAG Child Support Division, going to court, or hiring a private family law attorney.
Acknowledgment of Paternity
The last way to establish paternity is for a man and the mother of the child to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. An Acknowledgement of Paternity has the effect of establishing a man as the child’s genetic and legal father, with all of the rights and duties of a parent. The Acknowledgement of Paternity has to be filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. An important note is that if the child’s mother is already married to someone else when the child is born (or the child is born within 300 days of the divorce), the husband (or ex-husband) is the presumed father so he must also sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity in order for it to be valid. The failure to have the current spouse sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity is an extremely common mistake.
Schedule a Consultation with a Texas Family Law Attorney
If you are seeking child support or need additional information about establishing paternity, please contact The Law Office of Lindsey Lewis. Lindsey Lewis has years of experience in paternity cases, will answer any questions or concerns you may have and will work to ensure that you receive any child support you are entitled to. You can schedule a consultation appointment with our firm by calling us at (281)-768-4071 or by using our online form.