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Paternity Law Essentials for Texas Families

When a child is born in Texas and his or her parents are not married there the child will not have a legal father. Of course, the child has an actual father but that biological father must complete steps in order to become the legally recognized father of the child. Establishing paternity is a necessary, yet often overlooked step in solidifying the rights and duties that a father has with their child.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC works with mothers and fathers across Southeast Texas to establish paternity utilizing the procedures that the State of Texas has in place to do so.

This blog post will walk you through some essential pieces of information intended to assist parents in knowing what their rights are in this area of family law.

Forming the Mother and Father Relationships

The set of laws that pertains to the establishment of both paternity and maternity is the Uniform Parentage Act. Though the most obvious factor in determining who the mother and father of a child are is biology, the role that an adult takes in raising the child is a factor as well.

There is a presumption that if a man takes a certain amount of responsibility towards the rearing of a child that he is the father of the child, absent other circumstances.

What do I mean by presumption? A man is thought to be the father, basically, when the above level of parenting/involvement occurs. What situations lead to a presumption of paternity? Here is a list that the State of Texas recognizes:

  1. The man volunteers to be named the father on the child’s birth certificate
  2. The man has lived in the same household with the child during the first two years of the child’s life and voluntarily claimed that he is the father of the child
  3. The man is married to the mother of the child and the child is born prior to the 301st day after the marriage is terminated
  4. The man is married to the biological mother of the child and the child is born during this marriage

The Mother’s role during the Establishment of Paternity

If you are a mother and have a child with no legally recognized father you may want to have a father established by the Courts. Establishing paternity is often done by DNA evidence and has many benefits for yourself and the child. Examples of these benefits are:

  1. Having a specific knowledge of the medical history of the father in order to plan for the child’s course of medical care
  2. The ability to receive any benefits through the government on behalf of the father
  3. Health Insurance for the child that may be available through the father’s employer
  4. Allowing the child to have a sense of belonging to a family unit
  5. The ability to collect child support from the father in order to better support the child

The potential Father’s role during the Establishment of Paternity

By the same token, if you are a father it is in your best interest to have your paternity rights established in connection to your child. Some of those benefits are as follows:

  1. the ability to list the child as a dependent for tax purposes
  2. the right to be able to visit with and have possession of your child
  3. the right to have a say in whether your child is adopted
  4. the right to pay child support to assist in the rearing of your child

From my experiences with clients I can say that even though it can be a little intimidating using the Courts to create an Order that mandates you pay a certain amount of money to the child’s mother or requires you to have a set amount of visitation with the child, it sure beats the alternative.

By this, I mean that fathers will typically contribute to the financial well being of their child without ever being told by a Court that they have to do so. The idea that most dads are deadbeats who have little to no regard for their child or the child’s mother is not true from my experience.

Benefits to the Father of establishing paternity in Texas

The benefit of going to court and getting the paternal relationship legally recognized by the State and receiving Orders on child support and possession are incredible. First, getting yourself locked into a child support payment means that there is no question as to how much you have to pay, how often you have to pay it and to whom the money is to be paid.

Typically, child support flows through the State Disbursement Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. A wage withholding order can be drafted and sent to your employer notifying them how much will need to be held back from each of your paychecks. This takes the hassle and headache out of the process of payingchild support. A record will exist for both parents to review if there are any future questions on the amount/frequency of support.

This provides a benefit to your child because there is no doubt that your child support will go through the appropriate channels and arrive with your child’s mother at the same time each month. You will not have to wonder if the money has been received.

Furthermore- you have a record showing all payments sent out to the child’s mother cannot argue that payments were missed. Everyone has access to the same information and the record is maintained by an independent body (the State of Texas).

Finally, having a court Order that lays out a visitation schedule makes it so the child’s mother cannot withhold the child if she doesn’t believe your level of support to be sufficient or timely. I’ve seen too many dads be denied a weekend or an overnight visit with their child because the mother was upset at the informal child support payments being late or not being enough.

Your court Order will state that failure to pay child support is not a valid excuse to withholding visitation with the child. Hopefully failing to pay child support is not something that will become a reality for you. If it does happen, however, there is a protection afforded to fathers in your Order.

Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC for more information on Paternity

Establishing the rights and duties inherent in being named the legal father of a child is incredibly important. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have worked with fathers and mothers across Southeast Texas to do just that. Please contact our office today for a free of charge consultation where a licensed family law attorney with sit down with you to discuss the issues and answer questions you may have.

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