Establishing Paternity under Texas Law
According to Texas law, a child born to an unmarried couple does not automatically have a legal father. When a married couple has a baby, even though the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father, he may not actually be the biological father. Examples of situations where paternity is questioned include:
- A man claims to be the father, but the mother says he is not.
- A mother claims a man is the father, but he says he is not.
- The mother is not sure who the biological father is.
There are many reasons why establishing paternity is important. Courts can only order a man who is the legal father to pay child support. A man fighting for visitation with his child or for custody cannot prevail unless he establishes he is the legal father.
It is also in the best interest of the child to know who the father is, including the ability to discover if there are any medical history problems about which to be concerned. If paternity is established, a child may be entitled to certain Social Security, veteran’s benefits or other governmental assistance programs. There are different approaches to establishing paternity depending on the circumstances of the individual case.
Acknowledgement of paternity
If parents are not married to each other at the time of the birth, they can sign a document called “Acknowledgement of Paternity” and file it with the Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS). The man then is the legal father. If the mother is married at the time of the birth to a man who is not the father, or was married to a man not the father during the 300 days prior to the child's birth, the husband must also sign a document called “Denial of Paternity” and file it with the BVS.
Adjudication of paternity
When paternity is questioned, any involved party may file a “Petition to Adjudicate Paternity” in the family law court. All of the following people must be served with a copy of the petition so that they have an opportunity to respond:
- The man who is the presumed father, if there is one, and all men who have either claimed to be the father or whom the mother has named as being the potential father.
- The mother.
- A man who has filed an Acknowledgement of Paternity with the BVS.
- A party who has a court-ordered relationship with the child.
- The Office of the Attorney General if benefits for the child are being provided to any party.
The court will order genetic testing which has a 100 percent accuracy rate of excluding a man as being the biological father. It can determine who the biological father is with a 99 percent accuracy rate. Family law attorneys assist both mothers and fathers in their important quest to establish paternity.
About The Company:
Walters Gilbreath is a law firm based in Austin, Texas. The law firm specializes in family law, which covers Divorce, Child Custody, Property Division, Alimony, and more. Walters Gilbreath let you get on with your life in the best emotional, financial and legal shape possible. Walters Gilbreath represents clients and is always prepared to go to the lengths necessary to maximize a client’s chances of victory.
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