When children are born to married couples in Texas, the law presumes that the husband is the father and accords him all of the associated rights and benefits, including the right to seek custody if the marriage ends in divorce.
With unmarried parents, things are more complicated. If you are the baby’s father, you have to take steps to officially establish paternity. In this blog, we’ll review the various legal options and how a Texas family law attorney can help you with them.
How Do You Establish Paternity In Texas?
Paternity can be established in Texas in one of two ways: by voluntarily signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form or via court order.
Acknowledgement of Paternity Form
If you and the baby’s mother agree that you are the biological father, you can both sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital. If you don’t manage to get this done before going home, you can always obtain a copy of the form at your local birth registrar, the Child Support Division of the Attorney General’s office, or the Vital Statistics Unit and mail it to the latter office in Austin. Once the form is filed, you are legally considered the baby’s father and your name will be added to his or her birth certificate.
If the mother disputes your paternity, it can be established via a court order. You can file a petition to adjudicate parentage and have yourself legally declared the baby’s father. If the mother doesn’t agree, however, the court may order DNA testing to confirm that you are in fact the biological parent. If the result is positive, the court will issue an order adjudicating parentage and add your name to the birth certificate. Depending on your situation, it may also issue child custody, visitation, and support orders.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity in Texas
There is more to establishing paternity than just having a father listed on the birth certificate. A paternity determination has benefits for both the child and the father. For example:
- You will both enjoy a legal and emotional parent-child relationship
- You have the right to pursue custody and visitation if your relationship with the mother ends
- The child’s medical history will be better understood
- The child will have access to medical insurance and benefits like inheritance rights, veterans’ benefits, and Social Security benefits.
Get Experienced Advice from a Texas Family Law Attorney
Do you have questions about establishing paternity in Texas? Are you concerned about your legal status in regard to your child? At the Law Offices of Dylan Pearcy in San Antonio, we can provide the legal guidance needed to confirm your paternity and protect your rights as a father. To learn more or speak with a Texas paternity lawyer, call us today at 210-953-7486.