People often expect paternity cases to be highly dramatic, thanks to their depiction on daytime talk shows and their use as plot twists in movies.
In reality, paternity cases are like any other family legal matter. Yes, they can be emotional, but when you address them directly and as soon as possible, you can resolve things relatively peacefully. Failure to take this approach to paternity matters can result in some unfortunate consequences.
When you do not understand paternity laws in Texas, or you try to ignore issues of legal fatherhood, you could wind up causing:
- Denial of parenting rights – In this state, if you are not married to the mother, you are not the father of her child unless you voluntarily acknowledge paternity or take a court-ordered paternity test that confirms your relationship. Failure to take this step to establish paternity means that you have no legal rights to seek custody or make decisions for your child.
- Paying for a child that is not yours – If you are presumed to be the father of a child, but you do not take steps to confirm this, you could wind up paying support for a child with whom you have no biological connection. Thus, if you are not married or have any reason to suspect a child’s paternity, you can save yourself heartbreak and money by taking a genetic test.
- Opening others up to upsetting surprises – Paternity surprises can be devastating to biological parents, presumed parents and children. Children can feel scared and lost; parents and presumed parents can feel duped and angry. And the longer it takes for the correct information to come out, the greater the shock can be.
- Keeping valuable information from a child – Today, technology allows us to glean an incredible amount of information about ourselves, our health and our heritage, influencing everything from medical treatments to inheritances. Failing to confirm paternity can mean a child is without critical information to guide personal, cultural and medical decisions.
Paternity matters can have legal, financial and personal implications. But rather than hope the situation goes away on its own, you can minimize the fallout by addressing the issue directly and quickly.