Paternity is a term with a specific legal meaning. It refers to the legal relationship between a father and child. There may be no question about who a child’s biological father is, but the father won’t be considered the legal father until paternity has been formally established.
Why Is It Important To Establish Paternity?
For a mother, establishing paternity ensures that she has a legal basis to pursue financial support from the father until the child turns 18. For a father, paternity is a stepping stone to getting custody and visitation rights and being able to have a say in how the child is raised.
A Name On a Birth Certificate Does Not Establish Paternity
Many people believe writing a man’s name on a birth certificate is enough to make him the legal father. This is a misunderstanding. It’s certainly a good idea to include the father’s name for various reasons, but simply writing his name on the birth certificate does not make him the legal father.
On the other side of the coin, leaving the “Father” section empty does not prevent the father from seeking to establish paternity.
3 Ways To Establish Paternity In Texas
Like most states, Texas offers a few different ways to establish paternity. Two are relatively easy, while the third can be quite difficult.
- Paternity presumed: In Texas, if the parents are married, then it’s presumed that the husband is the legal father. A married man does have the right to use the legal system to challenge paternity if he believes he is not the father.
- Paternity by agreement: If neither parent disputes paternity, they can complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. Most hospitals offer this form to the father if he is present for the birth. The AOP can be signed after the birth, but you will also have to pay fees to change the birth certificate. Plus, you will need to go through an AOP-certified entity.
- Paternity through the legal system: If either parent disputes paternity, then it may be necessary to use the legal system. This starts by filing a Petition to Adjudicate Paternity, which can be filed by the mother or father, or even by the child if he or she is old enough. Upon filing the petition, the alleged father will be notified and a hearing date will be scheduled. If the alleged father does not appear, he could be ruled as the father by default. If the hearing occurs and either parent still disputes paternity, the court will order a DNA test. When the DNA results come in, the court enters an order declaring whether the man is or is not the father.
Get a Free Consultation With A Paternity Lawyer In Arlington
Schneider Law Firm’s Arlington family lawyers help clients, both men and women, establish and challenge paternity. To discuss your paternity questions, please call our office at 817-799-7125 or send us a message to arrange a free initial consultation.