One of the most difficult family law related circumstance that attorneys work on with clients is related to paternity. There are certain times where the father of a child is either completely unknown at the time of the child's birth or a mother is not entirely sure who the father of her child is. It is during these times that a court would need to intervene in order to determine paternity for the purpose of assigning conservatorship rights to the child, child support for the child as well as inheritance and other benefits available to that child through their relationship to the father. issues regarding paternity go beyond the world of family law, to be sure.
in today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan I would like to spend some time discussing when paternity is assumed and when paternity needs to be adjudicated. There are several elements to this subject of family law that a mother or family of a child need to become acquainted with in order to do what is necessary to determine parentage and help that child begin to develop a relationship with his or her father.
What is a presumed father in Texas?
A man is presumed to be the father of a child, in Texas, when that man is for all intents and purposes legally recognized as the father until a court can legally determine that he is the legal father. The simple way to do so, also known as voluntarily acknowledging paternity, would be for the presumed father to sign what is called an Acknowledgement of Paternity. An agreed acknowledgment of paternity would be signed by the presumed father and the child's mother. The second way to legally determine a child's father would be to go through a Texas family court. A hearing will be held on the subject and a judge would determine paternity based on the results of that hearing.
For those of you wondering, it is possible for a man who is not the biological father of a child to be named as that child legally recognized father. presumption of paternity occurs if the man is married to the mother of the child and that child is born during the marriage. Keep in mind that if the husband of the mother he's not the biological father of that child and he is still presumed to be the child's father in a legal sense. This can create issues for men in this position and a challenge to paternity should be filed in family court as soon as possible after the husband were to learn that he is not that child biological father. Failing to do so may put him in a position where he is not able to challenge paternity and he will have legal rights and duties in association with that child moving forward.
Another way that a Texas man can be presumed to be a child's father is if he were married to the mother of the child and the child was born before the passage of 300 days after the divorce. The other main circumstance in which a man would be presumed to be the legal father of a child is if he were residing with the child during his or her first two years of life and he did so consistently in that child's household. In addition, the presumed father must have told other people that he was a child's father and have acted upon that belief. This is very similar to how a couple can be declared to be in a common law marriage
If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you and you believe that you are not the biological father to a child, then you need to act quickly in order to challenge paternity in a state family law court. The legal process that you would have to follow to do so would include filing a denial of paternity in the family law court and presenting evidence as to why you are not that child's biological father and should have no legal rights or duties in association with him or her. it goes without saying that this is a difficult, emotionally volatile and complex set of circumstances that you could find yourself in potentially. It is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney before proceeding on your own in a paternity challenge.
Why is legally establishing paternity for your child important?
I touched on this subject at the beginning of today's blog post but wanted to spend some more time going over why it's important for your child to have a legally recognized father. Let's assume that you or a mother who gives birth to your son at the hospital and you are not entirely sure who the father of your child is. No man Contacts you regarding a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and when you fill out the birth certificate for your child you do not list the name of any man under the label of “father.”
at this point when you take your child home, he would not have a legally recognized father. At first, this did not seem like a big deal to you. After all: you are an independent person and have no problem with providing for your child or at least doing your best to attempt to do so for as long as you can. On top of that, you have a great support system with your own mother and extended family in the area who are available to watch your son when you have to work or attend to other business. It is not your intent to try to harangue any man who could be the father of your child into acknowledging paternity.
From my experience working with people in family law cases I believe that this is a pretty common scenario among mothers who are not entirely sure who the biological father of their child is . I find that most mothers in these circumstances want what is best for their child and believe that if a man Does not readily accept parenting responsibilities over that child that she is not going to force it upon anyone. While this may seem like a practical info even fair way to go about things in the short run, I can tell you that there are many benefits to having you are child have a legally recognized father.
For one, your child should have a legal relationship to his or her father. This would allow your child to have his or her father's name on their birth certificate and also establishes rights for you to receive child support on behalf of that child. If we're just thinking of things from a practical standpoint, and not considering anything beyond the world of family law, child support is an important aspect of a paternity case. It is quite likely that you will not always be able to provide financially for your child especially when turbulent economic times land on your doorstep. As a result, child support can be a straightforward means by which your child can be guaranteed a certain standard of living in good times and bad.
Another aspect of this discussion that is important to note would be that a court cannot order any person to provide health insurance or cash medical support for your child unless he is legally determined to be that child's father. It goes without saying that health care and health insurance coverage is an important aspect of most any person’s life in this country. The discussion about health care seemingly will never end and despite many politicians attempts to solve the problem and combat the issue of rising health care costs I would bet that this is a subject that does not go away anytime soon. You want to do your best to ensure that your child is covered with health insurance. If health insurance cannot be provided to your child, then The child's illegal father should be ordered to pay the state for any cost associated with covering your child with Medicaid.
If your child's father were to die suddenly then he or she may be eligible for benefits provided to children of the deceased under the law and through life insurance policies. For instance, there is such a thing as survivors benefits in the world of Social Security where your child will be able to collect a monthly check on behalf of their deceased parent. Likewise, if your child's father had a life insurance policy that named your child as the beneficiary then their death could wind up having a dramatic impact on your child's future financial state.
However, none of this we're going to motion unless your child and their father had a legal relationship. It does not matter that the child's father acknowledged paternity privately but never signed anything or went to court in order to have that legal relationship defined. a hunch or a gut feeling that this man is the child's father may limit his or her ability to benefit in some way from their fathers having passed while he or she were a child. With so much on the line as far as finances are concerned it is a great idea for your child to have a legally recognized father.
Another benefit to knowing who your child's father is and having him legally acknowledge as that child's parent is the ability for your child to know more about what medical risks may confront him or her as they age. For instance, if you never put in the work to determine who your child's father was then you may miss out on learning about a cancer, mental health or substance abuse issue that that father’s family has a history of. Knowing in advance of any medical or mental health problems could go a long way towards preventing or successfully treating one of these issues.
Finally, one of the most immediate benefits that your child will receive from having father had legally determined in a court would be that he or she is able to have visitation in possession Opportunities with their father. Again, I can completely understand your feeling that your child is better off not knowing a man who he doesn't care to immediately acknowledge paternity. However, in the long run I believe that children benefit from having a relationship with both of their parents. Even at the beginning of that relationship took some time to get off the ground learning about who your parents are allows a child to learn more about who he or she is.
What can you do if you are a mother who wants to have paternity established for your child?
In my opinion, the best way to have paternity established for your child would be to file a paternity petition In the county where you and your child reside. That petition would ask the court to identify an alleged father of your child and then to name him that child legal father. When that man will not voluntarily acknowledge paternity or agreed to paternity with you then you are asking the judge to decide on issues regarding paternity. A DNA test would likely be ordered and is a very accurate way to determine if the man you suspect is your child's father indeed is your child's biological parent.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about Texas family law as well as the services that our law practice provides to our clients. Thank you for your interest in today's blog post topic and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow for additional information about the world of Texas family law.