Your Rights: Whether You’re The Father or Not.

The information below is general in nature and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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How do I initiate the process of determining biological paternity?

If you are aware of the biological mother’s pregnancy when the child is born, you can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital. This will allow the child to have your last name. If you are not able to sign Acknowledgment of Paternity, you should have an attorney file a petition to adjudicate paternity. You should also register with the Texas Paternity Registry.

How can I establish legal paternity?

The easiest way to establish legal paternity is to have a DNA test performed. There are many companies that perform this service. If the mother of the child is uncooperative, there are two options available. The first is to the attorney general’s child support office and open a case. They will contact the biological mother to begin the process. The downside to using the child support office is that it can be a slow process.

The quicker method is to have an attorney file a petition to adjudicate paternity. In that petition, the attorney will request a court order for DNA testing. 

If the DNA test is negative, you will likely have no parental rights; though there may be other remedies.

If the test is positive, the court will enter an order adjudicating you to be the biological father. Your attorney can then assist you in obtaining visitation rights for the child. Of course, you will also be required to pay child support and provide medical and dental insurance for the child.   

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How can paternity affect child support and/or preexisting custody decrees?

In Texas, it is presumed that the husband is the biological father of any child conceived or born during the marriage. If there is a final decree of divorce, the court will make a finding that you and your spouse are the parents of any children born during the marriage. If a child conceived or born during the marriage is not your biological child, the final decree of divorce must specifically state this. Otherwise, the non-biological father will be paying child support for a child that is not his.

Can disproving biological paternity nullify a custody agreement?

If the biological parents are not married, it is important for the man who believes he is the biological father to have his paternity adjudicated. This is particularly true if he did not sign the birth certificate or an Acknowledgment of Paternity. If paternity is not established by the court, any agreement between the biological parents concerning visitation and possession exists solely on the whim of the biological mother.

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