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How can I preserve my paternal rights in Texas?

Several cases of abandoned newborns have made headline news in Texas in recent months. These cases, in which the child is placed into foster care, beg the question as to what steps a biological father can take to protect their legal rights. In Texas, a paternity registry exists that allows registered fathers to be notified in the event their offspring is placed for adoption or the paternal rights are contested in court. Our Midland, Texas paternity lawyers explore the basis of the paternal registry and how it might be of use to you.

Texas’ Paternity Registry

Texas’ paternity registry was created in 1997. Texas is among over 30 other states to have such a registry and currently, over 1,500 men have signed up. To sign up under the registry, a father or suspected father must file a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity before a child is born or within 31 days of the child’s birth. The form can be found on the Texas Vital Statistics website.

When completing the form, the suspected father should include as much information about the child’s mother and the child as possible. The more information, the higher the likelihood the child will be correctly identified. It is free to file the notice.

If more than 31 days have passed since the child’s birth, there are still options to pursue legal recognition as the child’s father. You can consider hiring an attorney who can file a paternity action on your behalf. Alternatively, or in addition to filing a claim in court, you can request genetic testing and an application for child support services through the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

It is important to note that filing with the paternity registry will not in and of itself establish legal paternity. To formally receive recognition as a child’s father if the mother has not acknowledged you as such, you will likely need to file a paternity lawsuit. The court will issue a genetic test and the results of the test can confirm you as the biological father. To receive partial custody of the child, additional legal action may be necessary. Contact Navarrete & Schwartz today to learn more about your paternity case.