If there is a question as to who the biological father of a child is then it is likely that there will be a lawsuit filed in order to determine parentage. Either the Office of the Attorney General will file the case or the mother of the child will do so. If you are a man who is the possible biological father of the child you will be served with a citation that orders you to appear in court for a hearing to determine the parentage of that child.
Parentage is determined by the possible fathers taking DNA tests. Those tests will be administered at a testing facility near the courthouse and the results will be provided to the court. A second hearing will occur where the results are released. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan centers around what happens if those results come back and show that you are the father of the child.
Once you are determined to be the biological father of the child, the next step is for the judge to sign an order that calls for you to pay a certain sum of money on a monthly basis to the mother. Your income will be analyzed by the court. Twenty percent of your net monthly resources would go to your child’s other parent in support each month. If you have two children that percentage increases to 25%. Three children are 30% and on up to 40% for five or more children.
What the different titles for fathers mean in Texas?
In Texas, you could be known as a presumed, adjudicated or acknowledged father. Let's discuss what each of those terms means for you as you begin to learn more about family law cases in Texas.
First of all, a presumed father typically describes a man who was married to the mother of a child at the time of that child’s birth. It is presumed that you are the father if you are married to a woman who gives birth to a child.
Next, an adjudicated father is one who the court determines is the legal father to a child. A DNA or blood test will be had at the request of the judge or one of the parties to the case. If you take a test and it comes back positive then you are the adjudicated father of the child. You can even become an adjudicated father if you do not attend the hearing. If no other man is found to be the father of the child, yet you do not appear and present no evidence to the contrary, you could be adjudicated as the father to a child without your knowledge.
Finally, an acknowledged father is what you would be called if you were to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity with the mother of the child. You are claiming that the child in question is your biological child. You are given legal rights and duties to that child as a result of this designation. These forms are typically available in the hospital after the birth of the child.
What does paternity mean for you and your child?
Ultimately, paternity means that you are legally the father of a child. There is no doubt legally speaking that you are responsible for that child from a financial standpoint. There are some distinctions to make, however, if you are married or not.
If you are a married father to a child, then the law automatically presumes that you are that child’s father. Married men do not need to do anything to formally and legally acknowledge paternity of a child since the law does that for you automatically.
However, if you are an unmarried man, when a baby is born then there is no legal recognition of your being the legal father to a child just because you are his biological father. If the mother is married to another man, then you will certainly need to contest paternity as that other man will legally be presumed to be the father to your child. In contesting paternity, you will need to file a lawsuit to determine paternity.
What are the reasons why you would want to establish paternity?
In the event that you have had a child with a woman who is not your wife, you will want to give your child legal rights in relation to you as well as provide yourself with the privileges that are inherent in being a father to a child.
As far as your child is concerned, you are allowing him or her to learn who you are and who your family is. This is crucial to their developing a sense of identity and also for learning more about their extended family. You’re legally being established as the child's father also allows for an emotional bond to be developed that much easier through court-ordered visitation, if necessary. Your child will also be eligible to inherit property from you as well as Social Security benefits.
Next, the child’s mother will also benefit from your being established as the legal father of this child. She will feel the peace of mind that comes with knowing her child has two parents that are now legally obligated to care for him or her. It is no longer a concern that the law will only look to her to provide basic care for the child. Likewise, if she is struggling to afford to pay for the necessities of the child’s life, she needs you to be established as the legal father before child support can be ordered.
Finally, your name is able to be added to the child’s birth certificate. There is something about that which feels very authoritative for many men. Next, from that point forward there can be no questioning as to who is the legal father of your child. You are from that point forward the only man who can be named as the father to your child as long as you are alive. You have the legal ability to provide for your child both from an emotional and financial perspective.
Here I something that many fathers do not consider when it comes to parental rights. As the father to a child, you will have rights to influence the decisions made in regard to their education. As such, you can request the child's school records and make decisions into what programs he or she takes advantage of. The same can be said with regard to medical care. You have the ability to request and receive your child’s medical information and records. From a legal standpoint, you can petition a family court for custody, parenting time and/or child support as well.
How can parentage be established in Texas?
If you voluntarily acknowledge paternity then you would sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This form is commonly available in the hospital after your child is born. By signing the form you are halfway to being legally established as the child's father. Your child's mother would need to sign a form as well. Without both acknowledgments being on file, nothing is official. When both are signed and filed you are the legal father of this child.
You can ask nurses at the hospital for a form. Typically the hospital will send employees into your hospital room after the birth of the baby to have you sign paperwork and will file it for you. Be sure to read what you are about to sign before you do so. An acknowledgment of paternity can even be signed before the birth of the baby. The Office of the Attorney General is a good resource for learning where else you can find these documents.
An Agreed Paternity Order is another option that can be utilized in order to avoid a contested court hearing on this subject. You and the child’s mother would sign a legal agreement wherein you state that you are the father to the child. Not only are you agreeing to be the father of the child but you are also establishing orders regarding custody, visitation and child support. You become the legal father of the child by doing so and have orders established in connection with all of the important aspects of parenthood.
You and the child’s mother can draft and file an agreed paternity order on your own, with the assistance of a private attorney or by contacting the Office of the Attorney General.
Last, a judge can establish your paternity if there is some dispute between the child's mother, you or another man on who is the legal father of the child. All of the aforementioned rights and duties are established in a court-ordered paternity suit that we see in an agreed paternity order. The only difference is that you are going to have to establish paternity and then have a judge order these elements, rather than simply agreeing to them with the child's mom.
Can you buy an over the counter DNA test and have paternity established that way?
If you are not sure that you are the father to a child then you can request a paternity test be done without a court order. These tests are very accurate but cannot be used as evidence in a court case. However, it may be helpful to have some peace of mind that you are the child’s legal father before filing the case and hiring an attorney.
What is the Acknowledgment of Paternity?
An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a legal document that you and the child’s mother can sign if you are not married which voluntarily establishes paternity for that child. As the biological parents of the child, you can establish paternity quickly and easily by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity. Please note that the Acknowledgment of Paternity will request some sensitive information so you should let the entity helping you fill the form out if you need to keep anything private.
If you are having second thoughts about signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity, you can file to rescind the form within 60 days of the form being filed with the Vital Statistics Unit in Austin. Keep in mind that you also need to have filed that form before any legal proceeding takes place where your child is the subject.
If you are a mother, you should not feel pressured to fill out this form just to establish child support for a man. Keep in mind that it is a crime to fill out an Acknowledgment of Paternity where you name a man who knows is not the father as the biological father of your child. Recently I had an opportunity to meet with a potential client who was worried about her actions having purposely named another man as the father to her child. She did so, and the man agreed to falsely sign off on an AOP because they were concerned for the well-being of the child. Both the mother and the supposed father signed and filed the AOPs thinking that this man could offer financial assistance to both mother and child. This is a terrible idea and was for these folks as well. The man had started to act violently and the mother was concerned because he had been established as the father to the child under false pretenses.
Questions about establishing paternity in Texas cases? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
Thank you for spending some time with us today. If you have any questions about the material that we have been discussing please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you for a free of charge consultation. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to speak to an attorney about your circumstances and to ask questions about where you should go from here. We represent clients across southeast Texas and take great pride in doing so.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Husband Not the Father, what do I do in a Texas Divorce?
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
- Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- Texas Divorce Morality Clause: Be Careful What You Ask For
- What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?
- Explaining the Contested Divorce Process in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX 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, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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.