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In the world of family law, establishing paternity means an official determination as to who is the legal father of a child. Being the legal father of a child comes with important legal rights and obligations. It can be established in different ways. If the parents of the child are married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, then paternity is automatically established. The husband is automatically declared the legal father of the child. His name will go on the child’s birth certificate. For unmarried parents, things are more complicated. There are certain, specific steps that must be taken in order for a legal father to be established when the parents are not married to each other.

Does Signing a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Texas?

In Texas, signing a birth certificate will not establish paternity. In fact, a purported legal father of a child who is not married to the mother will not be able to even sign the birth certificate until he signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (AOP). In most cases, the mother and father will be ready to establish paternity in the hospital and have the father sign the birth certificate. Hospitals must provide unwed parents with the opportunity to establish paternity. The parents are not only to be provided this opportunity, but they are required to provide information about what it means to establish legal paternity such as the legal rights and obligations associated with being the legal father of a child.

The AOP acts as a legal finding of paternity. It is filed with the state’s Vital Statistics Unit. Once the AOP has established paternity, the father will be able to have his name put on the child’s birth certificate and will be able to sign the birth certificate. Establishing paternity is an important step for many different reasons. The fact that a father can establish legal paternity in the hospital through signing an AOP is important for all unwed parents to be aware of.

Establishing paternity allows a father to have legal rights to a child that will remain even should he and the mother separate. It helps ensure that the child is eligible for important benefits such as Social Security and health insurance. It also ensures that the child will be eligible for child support. Establishing paternity is an important step in establishing a bond with a child.

Family Law Attorneys

Establishing paternity is not always as easy as signing an AOP. Paternity may be contested by either the purported father or the mother. Things can get complicated quickly. There is a lot at stake in getting things right when it comes to paternity issues. The knowledgeable family law attorneys at Navarrete & Schwartz can help you with all issues incident to paternity. We are committed to helping our clients through some of the most difficult and legally complicated times they may face. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.