When two people have a child together, are unmarried, and separated, disputes can arise over paternity and whether the father is eligible for custody and visitation. Issues can also arise over whether the father is required to provide financial support. In Texas, paternity law governs what role a father plays in his child’s life based on his status as a parent and the type of paternity that is established.
The primary definition of paternity refers to who is legally identified as a child’s father. In Texas, there are four paternity categories that a father can fall under. These include the acknowledged father, the adjudicated father, the alleged father, and the presumed father. New laws have made it possible for a father to challenge the paternity of his child, whether he is the acknowledged, adjudicated, or presumed father.
When paternity is established, children can retain their rights to certain basic needs and benefits. For example, when a child knows who his or her father is, that child is able to benefit from financial support provided by both parents instead of just one. This child will also be able to identify whether he or she is susceptible to any health problems that are genetically transmissible from the father’s side of the family.
There are three ways paternity can be established in Texas: presumption, voluntary acknowledgement, and court order. If a father desires paternity of his child or a mother wishes for the father of her child to act on his legal duties, family law attorneys can help families move through the court process and obtain a court order dictating the legal duties of a father. The use of DNA testing is common today to confirm paternity.
When paternity is disputed and then resolved, both the mother and genetic father of a child must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity document. If a presumed father is also involved in the child’s life, the Denial of Paternity portion of this legal document must be signed by him as well. Once this is done, the presumed father does not have the rights or the duties of the genetic father to the child.