The importance of paternity in a child support case
If you are the presumed father of a child but have not yet been declared legally as the child’s father then you have work yet to be done.
Paternity creates a legal relationship between you as the father of a child and that child. Your child and their mother benefit from your being declared the father of the child in a legal sense and you do as well.
Benefits for Mom and Dad in your being declared the legal father of your child
If you are determined or acknowledged to be the legal father of your child your name is able to appear on his or her birth certificate. This is the first step that you will need to take in order to protect your relationship with your child.
Depending on the circumstances of your relationship to the child’s mother there may be people (perhaps even the mother) who do not want you to be a part of your child’s life. Acknowledging Paternity or legally having paternity established will see to it that you do not lose out on any time or the opportunity to bond with your child.
While we are on this subject, many people consider the ability to spend time with their child to be the most important part. I would agree that it is an important aspect of parenting.
However, the ability to make decisions and to care for your child is just as important if not more so. Establishing yourself as the legal father of your child means that you have the rights and duties that come along with being a conservator of your child. This is every bit as important as being able to spend the weekend with your son or daughter.
Benefits of establishing paternity from a Mother’s perspective
If you are a mom and are reading this blog post you should know that there are benefits for you as well when a man is legally determined to be the father of your child.
The majority of children benefit from having an ongoing relationship with their mother and father. The state of Texas encourages these relationships and the legal determination of your child’s parentage is the first step towards ensuring your child has the ability to build a relationship both with you and their father.
As we discussed in the section above, your child’s father has a legal responsibility for caring for your child. This means that you do not bear the burden of caring for your child all on your own. Child Support is only a portion of this duty to care for your child and it extends well beyond paying you a certain amount of money each month. Visitationwith your child, custody and as we just mentioned child support are only able to be ordered if and when a man is legally determined to be the father of your child.
The last thing that I will mention as a benefit for you is that your child will become eligible to inherit money from their father and also to take advantage of their social security benefits or medical benefits as well. This lightens the financial burden on your shoulders and allows him or her to be cared for better than you would be able to do on your own.
Benefits of establishing paternity from a child’s perspective
As the mother or father of a child, your responsibilities to your child are innumerable. True, the law may state that providing clothing, food, shelter, and an opportunity for an education are the bare necessities but you and I both know that your responsibilities extend well beyond those items in reality. No matter if you are a mom or dad you will want to be able to ensure that your child knows who his father is.
For one, your child ought to have the opportunity to know who his or her father is and to get to know his side of the family. Even if your child’s parents are not together that doesn’t mean that he or she should have to be raised by only one parent and their family. It takes a village to raise a child- as a former Presidential candidate once opined. Legally determining the father of your child allows both parents and their families to leave a mark on the child.
There is also something to be said for the bond that is created between a father and child when the child “officially” becomes his. Raising a child that you assume to be yours is one thing, but knowing full well that a child is yours means the responsibility and opportunity to raise the child to become not just a suggestion but an imperative.
When you take ownership of a situation or project at work you tend to work harder at it since that situation ultimately is a reflection on you. The same can be said of your child. Knowing that he or she is your child and your responsibility I believe creates a situation where your full effort will go into raising him or her.
Your child will also know who he or she is and where he or she comes from. Children who know only one parent end up having many questions about their unknown parent that often go unanswered. Knowing who your parents are, allows you to understand more about yourself and what your potential is.
Furthermore- knowing who your parents are, allows you to understand if there are medical issues that you may face later on in life. Taking better care of your health and preparing for eventual hardships is a rarely recognized yet extremely important aspect of knowing who your parents are.
Finally, your child benefits from having paternity legally established in that both of his or her parents are now able to file legal cases in court to help support him or her. If paternity is not legally established only the mother of your child may be able to assert legal rights and duties to the child. However, if your child’s paternity is confirmed in court then their father can also intervene through the courts if the child’s living situation deteriorates with Mom.
How to legally determine paternity
We closed yesterday’s blog post by specifying the legal means in Texas to establish paternity of a child when the child’s parents are not married to one another. In this section, we will go over each of those options in greater detail.
- Sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. This is the easiest way to establish paternity because it does not require the intervention of the courts. Both you and the mother of your child must sign the form voluntarily. If you find yourself in a situation where more than one man could possibly be the father of the child then you should get a DNA test prior to signing the AOP.
Typically if your child is born at a hospital, an AOP will be circulated for signature by hospital staff. However, the AOP can be signed prior to the birth of the child or once Mom and baby are at home. Keep in mind that if you want to establish orders regarding child support, visitation and custody you will need to go to court for those purposes.
- Go to court to have paternity established. As we have mentioned earlier in this series of blog posts on child support, you can contact the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in order to establish paternity. You may also hire a private attorney to do so through the district court of your county of residence. You will be tested genetically prior to being legally declared the father of your child.
If you find yourself in a situation where you and the child’s mother cannot agree on paternity or the terms of a child custody order then a judge will intervene and decide those issues for you based on the evidence presented in a trial. The judge will make rulings on paternity and child support.
More frequently asked questions regarding child support to be posted tomorrow
Stay tuned with us tomorrow to learn more about child support cases in Texas. If you have any questions in the meantime and would like to speak to a licensed family law attorney please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
Our attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you in a free of charge consultation. We would be honored to speak to you about your questions and to discuss more information about our firm with you.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case
- How to properly calculate child support in Texas
- Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
- Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay and what are the exceptions to that rule?
- The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
- Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
- Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
- Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
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- Can I get child support and custody of my kids in Texas if we were never married?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child support lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child support lawyers in HoustonTX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.