You most likely have heard the term, “Paternity” but you may not understand exactly what paternity is and the rules that apply in Texas. In the state of Texas, paternity means legal fatherhood. If the parents of a baby are married at the time of the baby’s birth, legally, the two people are recognized as the legal parents of that baby. If a couple is married when their child is born, they don’t need to do anything else from a legal perspective to establish paternity.
However, if the two parents are not married when the child is born, legally, the father is not recognized as the legal father. From a legal perspective, that means that he has no right to make decisions for the child. He will not have rights over the child until he becomes a legal parent. Legally, paternity must be established before anything else.
How does a person establish paternity in Texas?
There are three different ways in which a person can establish paternity:
- Marriage: If a couple is legally married at the time the child is born and the child is biologically the husband’s, he is considered the legal father in the eyes of the law. He doesn’t need to do anything further.
- Acknowledgment of Paternity: Acknowledgment of Paternity, or AOP, is a form that the parents can sign, which states that they agree that the man is the biological father.
- Court: If two people are not married, a Suit to Establish Paternity can be filed by either parent and a court will look at evidence, hear testimony, and make a decision regarding paternity.
Why is it a good idea to establish paternity?
There are several reasons why it is a good idea to establish paternity (legally).
- The child and the father are legally bound to each other.
- The child’s birth certificate will have the father’s name on it.
- Paternity is needed if the court needs to order child support, health care coverage, or financial support for medical treatment.
- The child is protected if the father passes away, such as inheritance and/or death benefits.
- The child will access to the father’s family medical history.
Paternity is necessary before the court can order the father possession and access to the child.
Solid legal support when legally pursuing paternity establishment
If you are in the middle of legally establishing paternity, the expertise of a family law attorney may make a tremendous difference in your case and in your experience. Your attorney will be sensitive to your needs and will help you to protect your rights as a father at the same time. Relationships can be complicated sometimes but no matter what happens otherwise, your relationship with you child should be clear and you and your child have a right to connect with each other legally and emotionally.