In Texas, paternity is the act of establishing a legal father. Of course, every child has a biological father, but there is a difference between a biological father and a legal father. A legal father is someone who has had his paternity established to his child. In Texas, if a child is born to a wedded couple, paternity is immediately established, and the husband is automatically considered the legal father.
How Can We Establish Paternity in Texas When the Parents are Not Married When the Child is Born?
If a child is born to a couple that is not married, that child will not have a legal father until paternity has been established. Paternity can be established in two ways. It can be established voluntarily, whereby the father voluntarily executes an Acknowledgement of paternity. The second way to establish paternity is through an involuntary way, which is through a court order.
How Can I Voluntarily Establish Paternity in Houston, TX?
A voluntary establishment of paternity can be executed at the hospital at the time of birth, or later at a certified office which accepts the acknowledgment, such as the local birth registration office or child support office. If executed at the time of birth, the hospital will forward such to the vital statistic unit, and the legal father’s name is placed on the birth certificate. If the acknowledgment is executed and filed after the issuance of the birth certificate, there is a fee to change the certificate and add the legal father’s name. The voluntary establishment of paternity can be executed without the assistance of a lawyer, but, before you execute one, you should retain a lawyer and seek advice as to the effects of such an acknowledgment.
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The second way to establish paternity is an involuntary establishment of paternity. You should retain an attorney to assist you with an involuntary paternity action. An involuntary establishment is obtained through the court. The reason you must proceed to court is that one of the two parents is disputing the paternity or is not willing to voluntarily execute an acknowledgment. Either parent, the state of Texas, or the child themselves can file suit to adjudicate parentage.
Once a petition to adjudicate parentage is filed, the father is directed to appear before the court. If the father does not appear before the court, the court can enter a default judgment. A default judgment is a court judgment that will rule in favor of the person bringing the petition, and against the father. The default judgment can find that the claimed father who failed to appear is the legal father.
If the claimed father does appear before the court, the court can order DNA testing. If the DNA testing results in the claimed father being confirmed as the biological father, the court will issue an order confirming paternity. The Court Order can be used as the basis for adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
Paternity Must Be Confirmed to Establish Child Custody, Visitation, and Support in Houston, TX
Once paternity is confirmed, the same court can then address child custody, child visitation, and child support. The lawyers at Stepp and Sullivan are here to help you with any paternity or family legal issues you have. If we can answer any questions you have, or if you need additional information, we are here for you. At Stepp & Sullivan, we make it personal. Powerful.