All children have a biological father but not every child has a legal father. Establishing paternity means legally naming a man as father of a child. Paternity is presumed if the father is married to the mother at the time the child is born. However, if the child’s parents are not married there’s no legal father until paternity is established. Once paternity is established the father gains rights and duties, including access to the child and a duty of support. There are several ways to establish paternity under Texas law.
1. Voluntary Acknowledgment
A man can establish his paternity if he and the mother sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. If the acknowledgment of paternity is signed at the hospital where the child is born, the birth certificate will list the man as the child’s legal father.
2. Involuntary Establishment of Paternity
If anyone disputes the paternity of a child, a court must issue an order adjudicating paternity. If the man named in a paternity suit denies he is the father, the court will order DNA testing. Should the DNA test come back as positive the court will adjudicate him as the father of the child. Then his name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate. Of course, if the DNA test is negative then he is not the biological father of the child and the mother must search for someone else to be named legal father of her child.
3. Why Would a Father Establish Paternity?
There are rights and duties that accrue to the legal father of a child. First, he has a right of access and possession of the child and can establish a paternal relationship with his offspring. Second, he gains access to educational and medical records of the child and learns about his family history.
4. What Mother’s Establish Paternity
The major reasons a mother wants to establish paternity of her child is to receive child support, gain help raising the child and give the child two parents. Additionally, benefits such as social security, insurance, inheritance and veterans benefits may be available from a legal father. And the child will know if she has inherited any unusual medical problems from the biological father.
5. What Is a Presumed Father?
There are four ways a man is presumed to be a child’s father: if he is married to the mother when the child is born. If he was married to her anytime during the 300 days prior to birth of the child. If he married the mother after the child was born. Or during the first two years of the child’s life he continuously lived with the child and represented to others he was the child’s father.
6. Can a Presumed Father Not Be Named a Legal Parent?
Yes, if the mother had an affair and become pregnant with another man, her husband can avoid being named the legal father if he signs a denial of paternity. Additionally, if the mother and biological father sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the court will order that the presumed father is not the legal father.
7. What Is Genetic Testing?
If there is doubt about the paternity of a child, genetic testing can definitively determine the truth. Collecting a sample of genetic material is simple and painless–it just requires a swab of tissue from inside the mouth. A laboratory will perform DNA testing and report the results to the court. The person requesting a genetic test must usually pay for the test unless it is done through the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Paternity can be established voluntarily by signing an acknowledgment of paternity or involuntarily by court order. Unmarried biological fathers voluntarily acknowledge paternity to gain access to their child and mothers ask courts for an order of paternity to receive child support. A man is presumed to be the child’s father if he is married to the mother when the child is born, but the presumption can be rebutted by genetic testing if he is not the biological father. Genetic testing is easy and painless for father and child. No man should acknowledge paternity without a genetic test unless he is absolutely certain the child is his.