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How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Texas?

In Texas, there is no limit on how long a father has to establish paternity. There is, however, a limit on the sum of past child support that can be recovered by a mother who prevails in a lawsuit establishing paternity. A court order in Texas may establish paternity and require the father to pay both child support and past child support. Texas law only allows this retroactive child support to be levied for four years following the establishment of legal fatherhood.

If you wish to establish paternity in Texas, it would be advisable to contact one of our attorneys at Skillern Firm. This area of family law is not straightforward. We can thoroughly examine your case to determine whether there are presumptions that you need to overcome.

Regardless of whether you wish to establish paternity or defeat an assertion against the presumed father, one of our attorneys can tell you what you need to do. The best way to navigate these cases is with the support and guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

Schedule a consultation with us today at 936-213-8479.

What Is Paternity?

The word “paternity” simply means fatherhood. In legal terms, paternity is established when it is determined who a child’s legal father is and the related obligations and rights of the father to the child. Every child is born with a biological father, however, not every child has a “legal” father. When paternity is established in a court case, it means that a person has been named as the legal father.

When a married couple has a child, paternity is automatically established at birth. The husband will be the lawful father of the child and named on the child’s birth certificate. Although, when a baby is born to unmarried parents, paternity is not automatically established. In these cases, paternity will need to be established before the name of a father can be stated on the child’s birth certificate.

Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?

Establishing paternity in Texas is important for a child, the child’s mother, and the child’s father. The benefits for a child include having relationships with both of their parents, having knowledge about their family medical history, securing an inheritance, and more. A mother can benefit by being eligible to receive child financial support and being able to share the responsibilities of raising a child.

Finally, establishing paternity can benefit a father as it grants them legal rights to their child. Some of these rights can include visitation and the ability to ask for custody in court. In addition, establishing paternity benefits a father because it proves to a child that they care about them, and they can have a greater bond with them. Not only this but it gives fathers a greater opportunity to participate in the lives of their children.

The court process to determine paternity can be complex. At Skillern Firm, we understand the importance of establishing paternity and a parent-child relationship. An experienced family law attorney at our firm can offer you the support and guidance you may be searching for.

What Is an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP)?

An Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) is a legal paternity form signed by a child’s mother and a man that claims to be the genetic father of the child. These forms are typically signed in situations where the parents aren’t married but they agree on the identity of the child’s father.

There are a few instances where an acknowledgment of paternity form won’t be valid. These include:

  • Another man is acknowledged as the alleged father.
  • The mother of the child is married to someone else when the child is born. These forms cannot be signed unless the husband, the presumed father, also signs a Denial of Paternity (DOP) form.

How Must Paternity Be Proven in Texas?

In Texas, Paternity can be established in one of three ways. Paternity can automatically be established by legal presumption which simply means that when a married couple has a child, the father will be the legally presumed father and acknowledged on the child’s birth certificate. Secondly, paternity can be established once an acknowledgment of paternity form has been successfully filed. Finally, paternity can be proven following a court order.

What Rights Does a Father Have if Not on the Child’s Birth Certificate in Texas?

A father will have zero parental rights to their child if they are not married to the child’s mother and are not named on the birth certificate. This will mean that they have no right to visit their child. In these cases, it is the decision of the mother whether visitation is possible or not.

If you have been barred from seeing your child, you may wish to seek a licensed attorney to help you establish paternity. The experienced attorneys at Skillern Firm can help you fight for the parental rights you are looking for. As soon as paternity is established, you will be able to fight for custody, visitation rights, and more.

What Is a Denial of Paternity (DOP)?

A Denial of Paternity (DOP) is a form legally signed by a man presumed to be a child’s father that states that the presumed father is not the biological father of a child. For this form to be legitimate, it will be required for a child’s mother and biological father to additionally sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. Once both of these forms are completed, they must be filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit.

Where Can an AOP or DOP Be Completed?

Legal AOP and DOP forms can be completed at a hospital following the birth of a child. The hospital will then file the forms with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit.

In addition, these forms can be completed either before or after a child is born but must be done at a certified entity. These places can include local birth registrars and child support offices. The Texas Vital Statistics Unit can send this form to you directly.

What Do You Need to Know Before Going to Court for a Paternity Case?

If you have been summoned to court for a paternity case hearing, you must do all you can to attend on that date. You may likely be scheduled to work on that date but it is your responsibility to request time away to attend the hearing. Even if you are absent from the case, important decisions can be made that impact your life. Decisions such as whether you should pay child support, possession, visitation rights, and more can be decided in the courtroom with you absent.

Furthermore, it is important to be as prepared as possible. It would be advisable to get in contact with a reputable family law attorney who can offer you advice about the legal process of establishing paternity. Not only this, but an attorney can help you overcome any issues that may arise. If the child’s mother is failing to acknowledge you as the legal and biological father, we can help you.

Can a Court Determine Who the Legal Father of a Child Is?

A court can absolutely determine who the legal father of a child is. To do this, the alleged father or child’s mother can get in contact with the Office of the Attorney General, hire a private family law attorney, or file a paternity suit themselves to get the legal process started. We would advise against filing a paternity suit by yourself because of how complicated these cases can be. You are far more likely to achieve the outcome you are looking for in court with a reputable attorney backing your case.

It is important to know that a DNA test will likely be part of a court paternity hearing. These tests generally only involve a swab being taken from the inside of a cheek. Once these results are back and a person is determined to be the legal biological father, it will be decided in court what parental rights the father is entitled to.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you wish to establish paternity in Texas, it is recommended that you talk with an experienced family law attorney. Although you can file paternity suits alone, there can be problems that can stop you in your tracks. For advice on overcoming unexpected problems and successfully achieving the legal outcome you desire, you will need to hire a lawyer.

Seeking legal help can feel daunting but it may be the best decision you ever make. An attorney at our law firm will willingly answer any questions or queries you may have about the legal process and establishing paternity.

Should I Contact Skillern Firm?

You should contact our law firm if you wish to receive help with establishing paternity or denying paternity. For years we have worked tirelessly to help our clients achieve the outcomes they desire across Texas.

Our attorneys have fairly earned reputations as being hardworking, honest, diligent, and effective in backing and representing members of our community. To find out more about how our legal services can help you, get in touch with us today.

Simply call us now at 936-213-8479.