April 16, 2020 | Share
What are the Legal Consequences of Establishing Paternity?
Whether you are a mother, you believe you are a child’s father or you need to disprove that you have a biological relationship with a child, establishing paternity is important for a variety of different reasons. While a child born naturally to a husband and wife is presumed to be the husband’s biological child in Texas, in all other circumstances, establishing paternity requires additional legal steps. This could be as simple as filing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (if everyone is in agreement on the child’s paternity), or as complicated as going through a contested paternity proceeding in Texas state court.
In any case, establishing paternity has several legal consequences. In addition to the emotional and psychological benefits of conclusively determining a child’s parentage, from a legal perspective, establishing paternity also serves to:
- Establish the Child’s Right to Inherit – In Texas, a biological child has the legal right to inherit from his or her parents. While parents can alter their children’s inheritances through the estate planning process, establishing a child’s legal right to inherit ensures that the child will be able to receive any assets not covered by the parents’ estate plan.
- Establish the Father’s Right to Seek Custody and Visitation – In Texas, an unmarried biological father has the right to seek custody and visitation consistent with the child’s “best interests.” As a general rule, the Texas courts favor shared custody and visitation arrangements, as spending time with both parents is generally viewed as being in the best interests of the child.
- Determine Who Must Pay Child Support – A child’s parents must provide the child with adequate financial support. In situations involving unmarried parents, this means obtaining a child support order through the Texas courts. Texas law provides clear guidance for calculating child support, and there are specific legal procedures for establishing, modifying and enforcing biological parents’ child support obligations.
- Provide Access to Medical Records – Determining a child’s genetic parentage can help ensure doctors will have access to his or her parents’ medical histories. Biological family members have certain rights regarding access to medical information that are not provided to unrelated individuals.
- Provide Access to Other Benefits – Under state and federal law, children are entitled to certain benefits through their biological parents. By establishing paternity, parents can also establish their children’s rights to Social Security, Veterans Administration (VA) and other government benefits.
- Avoid Confusion and Unwarranted Obligations – While a man who has been paying child support may not be able to immediately terminate payments once another man’s paternity has been established, determining a child’s biological parentage ultimately ensures that the biological parents will assume legal responsibility for meeting the child’s needs.
Speak with a Paternity Lawyer in McKinney, TX for Free
Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC is a family law firm with offices in McKinney, TX. If you are interested in obtaining a paternity test or have questions about the legal aspects of paternity, you can call (214) 726-1450 or contact us online to request a free and confidential consultation.
Categories: Family Law & Divorce