Ways to establish paternity in Texas

Sometimes, the seemingly simplest matters regarding family law issues in Texas can be the most confusing. When a child is born, it is important that the paternity be established. Many parents - particularly fathers - are often unaware precisely how this is to be done. When the parents are married, the husband will be listed on the birth certificate as the father. If the parents are not married, however, there are two ways for paternity to be established.

First, the parents could sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. This is the easiest method for unmarried parents to establish paternity. The form must be signed voluntarily. If it is possible that more than one man could potentially be the biological father, each should have a DNA test prior to signing the AOP. In general, a couple will sign the AOP when the child is born and do so at the hospital, but it can also be signed at the child support office or the Vital Statistics Unit at the Department of Health Services. Even if the AOP is signed, it will still be necessary to get a court order for custody, support, visitation and medical support.

The second way to establish paternity is through a court order. To do this, a case can be opened with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), filing a petition with the court, or through an attorney. With this method, DNA testing will be done. This can be provided free through the OAG. If the parents agree on paternity, they can establish support, visitation and other matters via Child Support Review Process (CSRP). If they are unable to agree on paternity or other matters, it will be taken to court where it will be decided.

It is in the best interest of the child for paternity to be established and everything that goes along with that to be dealt with. In some instances, there will be disputes about paternity. With these cases, it is essential to have assistance from an attorney experienced in paternity and fathers' rights.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Handbook for Noncustodial Parents -- How is paternity established? pages 10-11," accessed on May 4, 2017

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