Bellaire Paternity Lawyers Providing Legal Services to Clients Looking to Establish Legal Paternity
While every child has a biological father, not every child has a legal father. When a child is born to an unmarried couple, there are a few steps that need to be taken before the biological father of that child can gain parental rights and responsibilities. Our law firm explains the process of claiming legal paternity in Texas and how an attorney can help you at every step of the way.
When Is Paternity Automatically Established in Texas?
Establishing paternity means determining who the legal father of the child is, and entrusting him with the rights and responsibilities of a parent. In Texas, a man is automatically assigned as the legal father of a child when he is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. The man’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate, and no further action needs to be taken.
It is important to mention that if the biological father of the child is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, simply signing the birth certificate does not establish paternity. There are additional steps that need to be taken for unmarried couples for the man to be legally recognized as the father.
How Is Paternity Determined When a Couple Is Unmarried?
There are two methods through which an unmarried couple can establish legal fatherhood. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. If an unmarried couple gives birth to a child, the biological father and the mother can both agree to sign a document called Acknowledgement of Paternity, establishing her partner as the legal father of her child.
When this process does not happen voluntarily or there is some sort of disagreement, the mother, the father, the child, or even the state (if the child is receiving public assistance) can file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage, which initiates a legal action in the court that has jurisdiction where the child lives. The court will then notify the father about the proceeding. If the father appears and both mother and father agree that the man is the biological father, the court will enter an order adjudicating parentage. If the father is notified and fails to appear, the judge will enter a default order and declare him the father.
If the father appears but is unsure or is denying paternity, the court may order a DNA test. If the results show that he is the biological father, the court will issue the order for adjudicating parentage, adding his name to the birth certificate. Additional orders such as custody, child support, and visitation may also be issued at that time.
What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity?
The mother, the father and the child can all benefit from establishing paternity in many ways. First, the father will have the right to include his name on the child’s birth certificate. By doing so, the child will become eligible for important resources such as public and/or private benefits accessible through the father, such as health insurance, social security, and the right to an inheritance.
In addition, children will be able to access the father’s genetic history for healthcare purposes and also to gain an understanding of their family origins and heritage.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?
While you are not required to hire an attorney for the process of establishing paternity, it may be in your best interest to do so. A well-qualified attorney can help you file the appropriate documentation at the right time and avoid costly mistakes. Whether you are the mother or the biological father, you will benefit from the legal knowledge and negotiation skills of a well-versed paternity lawyer such as the ones at ALP Law Firm. If you are looking for legal help in the process of establishing paternity, contact the lawyers from ALP Law Firm and request a no-commitment case analysis today.