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Establishing paternity serves many important functions for children, their biological parents and presumptive fathers who turn out not to be parents. Establishing paternity is the first step toward securing custody rights, it is fundamental to ensuring that the obligation to pay child support falls to the appropriate individual, and it protects the child’s interests in many other ways as well.
Our McKinney paternity lawyer provides experienced legal representation for individuals in paternity proceedings throughout North Texas. If you need to establish or dispute paternity, we can walk you through all of the steps involved in the process. If you are proven to be a child’s father, we can help you secure custody or visitation rights and ensure that your child support obligation is fair. If you are disproven as a child’s father, we can use the legal system to help you avoid unwarranted obligations. If you are a mother and you need to protect your right to custody or child support, we can use all available legal means to ensure that your children are able to live the life they deserve.
When is it Necessary to Establish Paternity?
1. Children Born Out of Wedlock
In Texas, when a child is born to married parents, the husband is legally presumed to be the child’s father. In the event of a divorce, this presumption entitles the husband to all rights (and subjects the husband to all obligations) of a biological father under Texas law.
But, when a child is born out of wedlock, more steps are required to establish the child’s paternity. If both parents are in agreement regarding the child’s genetic parentage, establishing paternity can be as simple as completing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (“AOP”) form through an AOP certified entity. Once the form has been submitted, the biological father becomes legally recognized as the child’s parent, and he has all rights and obligations of a legal parent under Texas law.
If either party to a relationship (married or unmarried) disputes a child’s genetic parentage, then a paternity test will be required in order to determine whether the presumptive father is the child’s biological parent. Obtaining a paternity test is a legal procedure done through the Texas state courts; and, once the testing has been completed, a judge will render a decision as to the presumptive father’s legal rights and responsibilities. If the presumptive father refuses to participate in the process, then the judge will issue an order based upon evidence the mother presents in court.
2. Disputing Paternity of a Child Born to Married Parents
For husbands seeking to dispute biological parentage, the process starts with filing a denial of paternity. There is a legal form you need to complete; and, if the biological father is willing to accept responsibility for the child, he can submit an AOP in order to become recognized as the child’s legal parent. If the biological father refuses to acknowledge paternity, you can request a paternity test; and, once the testing is completed, the court will issue an order declaring paternity.
3. Establishing Legal Parentage Following Assisted Reproduction
The presumption that a child born to married parents is the husband’s legal son or daughter does not apply in cases of assisted reproduction. If you and your spouse conceived a child through any form of assisted reproduction, you must complete the necessary documentation in order to establish legal paternity.
What are the Consequences of Establishing Paternity in Texas?
Under Texas law, establishing paternity has several consequences. Establishing paternity is the best way to ensure various legal and other protections for the child. In Texas, establishing paternity serves to:
- Grant the biological father the right to play an active role in the child’s life. Once paternity has been established, a biological father can seek custody and visitation rights just as a husband (and presumed father) can in a divorce.
- Ensure that the child has access to financial support. Under Texas law, a legal parent must provide adequate financial support for his or her child.
- Provide the child with access to other benefits. Children have access to many different types of benefits through their biological parents, including Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and the right to inherit.
- Provide access to medical information. Knowing a child’s parentage ensures that the child can receive treatment based upon his or her parents’ medical histories.
- Avoiding Unwarranted Obligations for Non-Fathers. Once a presumed father has successfully disproven his paternity, he can seek to avoid the obligations that are only properly imposed on a child’s legal parents.
How Can I Request (or Dispute) a Paternity Test?
If you need to request a paternity test, the first step is to hire experienced legal representation. At Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC, our McKinney paternity lawyer can guide you step-by-step, and we can help you complete the process as quickly as possible. If you are being asked to submit to a paternity test or need to dispute a finding of legal parentage, we can explain your options and help you choose the best path forward.
If any of the following describe your situation, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation:
- You are a husband and you do not believe that you are the father of your wife’s child
- You need to dispute paternity out of wedlock
- You need to establish your parental rights as an unmarried father
- Your husband is disputing paternity of your child born into marriage
- You are a single mother and you need to legally establish your child’s parentage
- You are a child (minor or adult) and you need to establish your biological parentage
Request a Free Consultation With a McKinney Paternity Lawyer at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC
If you would like to speak with a McKinney paternity lawyer in confidence, please contact us to schedule your free initial consultation at our family law offices in McKinney, TX. You can reach us by phone at (214) 726-1450, or submit our confidential request form and we will respond as soon as possible.