Paternity Suits in Denton and Surrounding Areas
In Texas, the law provides that a child born to a married couple is presumed to be the child of the husband. Paternity comes into question when a child is born to parents who are not married at the time of the child’s birth.
A biological father is not the same as a legal father. The biological father, without confirmation that he is the child’s legal father, is not entitled to all the rights and responsible for all the duties of a legal father.
Paternity can also be brought into question by either parent when there is a basis to question the presumption that the husband to a marriage is the biological parent of the child born during that marriage.
Methods for Establishing Paternity
In general, there are three options for establishing parentage in Texas:
Marriage: The law provides for a presumption that a child born during marriage is the offspring of the husband of that marriage, provided that the marriage occurred prior to the birth of the child.
This is a presumption that can be overcome by either party to the marriage, or a third party who believes that they may be the child’s father, initiating a suit for paternity challenging the presumption.
Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP): In the event that the parents of the child are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth but both parents agree on the parentage of the child, they can agree to execute a legal document identifying the biological father of the child. An AOP, if executed correctly and delivered to the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics as required, creates a presumption that the father identified on that form is the legal father of that child. AOPs are typically executed at the time of the child’s birth.
The presumption of paternity created by the AOP can be challenged by either of the parents identified in the AOP or by a third party who believes that he may be the biological father of the child.
Paternity Suit: Such a suit can be filed by the mother of the child, a man who believes that he may be the biological father of the child, a man who believes that he may not be the biological father of the child – including a man who was married to the mother of the child at the time of the child’s birth, a guardian or representative of the child or a government entity seeking support on behalf of the child. This means that the paternity of a child whose father has not been established is likely to come into question at some point during their childhood, even if the child’s mother never seeks to initiate a suit.
Virtually every paternity suit will require the presumed or alleged father to submit to DNA testing to legally confirm paternity.
Paternity is one of the most neglected areas of law because it is common for one or both parents to allow concerns about the possible liability associated with legally identifying the father to prevent them from taking action. Most parents do not realize that there may be equal or greater liability associated with failing to identify a child’s legal father.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
While seeking legal remedies can be daunting, it is often beneficial for both parents to have specific terms for custody, possession, child support, health insurance and other parameters identified for each parent.
Benefits for Mothers: Establishing paternity will typically allow you to obtain an order that designates the amount of child support that the father is required to pay each month and requires the father to provide health insurance for the child or to reimburse you for the monthly cost for supplying health insurance for the child.
Establishing paternity will also designate the rights that each parent has to make decisions on behalf of the child and the specific times when each parent has the right to possession of the child. This will eliminate or substantially decrease the need to negotiate those issues with the father each time that they come up and provide boundaries for both parents.
Benefits for Fathers: Establishing paternity will allow you to establish legal rights to receive information about your child’s health, education and other needs and to make decisions regarding those needs on behalf of your child. In addition, establishing paternity will provide you with a specific schedule for the times when you are entitled to possession of your child and allow you to enforce the right to visitation according to those provisions if the mother refuses to turn the child over to you or attempts to limit your time with the child.
It is important to note that waiting to establish paternity of your child does not relive you of your financial responsibility for that child. Delaying the process often results in difficult consequences for a father who has failed to provide financial support for his child, even prior to a court order for child support having been made.
In order to obtain these benefits and avoid potential pitfalls of delay, it is essential that you contact and experienced family law attorney who is experienced in paternity to assist you in the process of establishing paternity as soon as possible.
Brandi Underwood has more than fourteen years of experience serving clients in Denton, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Sanger, Krum, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Anna, McKinney, Allen, Little Elm, The Colony, and the surrounding areas.