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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Sunday, April 10, 2022

How to Establish Paternity in Texas

In the legal sense of the word, paternity refers to the legally established father of a child. Under the law, a child’s legal father has certain rights and responsibilities concerning that child. In establishing paternity, a person is declared to be the legal father of the child. Not every child will have a legal father although, of course, they will have one biologically speaking. Legal establishment of paternity can help a child foster a relationship with both parents. It also can allow a child access to critical family medical histories, health insurance, and other benefits such as life insurance, Veterans benefits, inheritance rights, and Social Security benefits. Furthermore, establishment of legal paternity can help diffuse the costs and responsibilities associated with raising a child so that it does not land squarely on the shoulders of the mother. On top of all of this, the legal establishment of paternity can foster a relationship between a child and their legal father.

How to Establish Paternity in Texas

When parents are married at the time of a child’s birth in Texas, paternity is considered to be automatically established. The husband of the mother is assumed to be the child’s legal father and his name will go on the child’s birth certificate. If the mother is not married at the time of the child’s birth, Texas law considers that the child has no legal father until the establishment of paternity. Paternity can be established either voluntarily or involuntarily. Once established, the father’s name goes on the child’s birth certificate and he will gain certain rights and responsibilities relating to the child.

In cases where the mother and father of the child agree that the father is the biological father of the child, the mother can sign and file an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.” This is how paternity is voluntarily established and is often done at the hospital soon after the child’s birth. If not done at the hospital after the child’s birth, the form can also be completed later and sent to the Vital Statistics Unit located in Austin. A fee will be associated with changing the name on the birth certificate if the Acknowledgement of Paternity is filed after the hospital has already mailed the birth certificate.

Paternity can also be established involuntary through a court proceeding resulting in an Order Adjudicating Parentage. It is referred to as involuntary as someone is disputing paternity and the court must resolve the issue. There are actually a number of people who can bring a paternity action in court. It could be the mother or the father or, alternately, it could be the child. It could also be the state bringing the paternity action if the child is receiving public assistance.

To initiate a paternity action, the petitioning party must file a “Petition to Adjudicate Parentage” in the county where the child resides. In the event that the mother or the father is denying paternity or is otherwise uncertainty about paternity, DNA testing may be ordered by the court. Upon establishing paternity, the court also has discretion in issuing custody, visitation, and child support orders.

Texas Family Law Attorneys

If you need assistance with establishing paternity in Texas, talk to the team at Navarrete & Schwartz. We are proud to serve the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.


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Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C. is located in Midland, Texas and serves the surrounding cities and counties, including: Odessa in Ector County, Andrews County, Martin County, Howard County, Winkler County and Crane County.



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