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Understanding paternity in Texas

Aug 3, 2020 | Paternity

Many Texans must confront paternity questions, whether they are unmarried parties having a child or couples divorcing amid allegations of infidelity.

For some people, the issue of paternity is embarrassing; for others, it is merely a necessary legal process. Whatever your feelings on paternity may be, you must understand a few critical details about determining parentage in this state.

There are different ways to establish paternity

In Texas, a man is automatically presumed to be a child’s father if he and the child’s mother are married. If parents are not married, they can establish paternity in one of two ways:

    • Parents sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form after a child is born.
    • Parties get a court order, which can involve DNA tests to determine whether a man is a child’s biological father.

It can be necessary under various circumstances

Most people assume paternity is for situations where a mother had numerous intimate relationships around the same time. While paternity testing may be necessary under these circumstances, there are other times it can be required.

For instance, a child born to unmarried parents does not have a legal father until the father signs an AOP form, or one party gets an order from the courts naming the legal father.

And even married couples can find themselves needing a paternity test if a mother had a relationship outside of the marriage.

There are benefits to determining paternity

Several rights hinge on parties legally establishing paternity. For instance, an unmarried man who assumes he is a child’s father generally will not have rights to legal or physical custody unless and until he acknowledges paternity or confirms paternity through testing.

Mothers have the right to seek child support from a father, but only if paternity has been established.

Another benefit of confirming parentage is that it provides parents and a child with helpful information. Knowing where you come from can inform everything from your sense of self to your medical care.

Paternity can be a complicated matter, especially when there are issues related to deception or infidelity involved. In these situations, it can be easy to let emotions take over. However, a parent’s rights and the well-being of a child could be on the line, so it is crucial to address paternity issues right away and with legal guidance.