Lara Bracamonte Davila

Doing What Is Right For You

Establishing paternity in Texas

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Family Law

Establishing paternity of a child in Texas is required before a custody order can be put in place. Paternity legally designates someone as a child’s father.

If you are a child’s father and you are seeking custody rights, you must first establish paternity. If you are a mother, establishing paternity provides you and your child with many benefits.

Why paternity is important

For example, a father cannot be ordered to pay child support until paternity is established. A child may also not be able to receive certain benefits, such as social security or insurance benefits, from a father without legal paternity.

Additionally, it is important to establish paternity since, generally speaking, a child born to unmarried parents has no legal father. A common misconception is that having a father’s name on a birth certificate is enough to establish paternity but it does not make the person the child’s legal father.

Parents can establish paternity without going to court by signing a form called acknowledgment of paternity. This is the best option when there is no question about who the child’s father is.

If there is a question on who the child’s father is, or if one parent refuses to sign the acknowledgment of paternity, the situation becomes more complicated. In that case, the family court must get involved.

The court may require the alleged father to take a DNA test. Paternity is established if the results confirm they are the biological father.

Presumption of paternity

The situation becomes even more complicated if the child’s mother is married or recently divorced from someone else at the time the child is born. If the child is born when the mother is still married or within 300 days of the mother’s divorce from someone, the mother’s husband/ex-husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father.

Paternity can still be established but the process may take longer and be a bit more involved. The legal father can sign a denial of paternity and the biological father sign an acknowledgment of paternity. Otherwise, DNA testing through the court system is the best option to establish paternity.