Tarrant County Paternity Lawyer
When two married spouses have a child, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child under Texas law. However, there is no automatic presumption of legal paternity when parents are unmarried. Even if both parents are certain of the identity of the father, an unmarried man, or the mother seeking to establish a parental relationship between the man and the child, must take additional steps to ensure both parents have all of the legal parental rights to the child.
There are different ways to establish paternity, and most paternity cases do not stand alone, but instead involve other child-related legal issues. If you would like to establish legal paternity of your child, contact the Hurst and Tarrant County paternity attorneys at Hoppes Family Law today.
Ways to Establish Paternity
If parents are unmarried but agree to establish paternity right from the start, they can voluntarily do so at the time of the child’s birth. This involves having both parents complete and sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, which can be done at the hospital following the birth. If you do not complete this form at the hospital, you can do so at a later date and submit it to the state Vital Statistics Unit. This form can lead to the established father’s name being on the child’s birth certificate, as well as the father having the legal rights and responsibilities of parenthood. While this may establish paternity, it does not create an enforceable child support obligation or an enforceable conservatorship, possession and access agreement. It is important to establish the specific rights and duties of each parent to the child, just like in a divorce proceeding. To accomplish this, a petition must be filed with the court.
If one parent wants to establish paternity and the other challenges it, the matter will need to be taken before the family court. You can file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage if paternity is disputed, or you can dispute paternity if someone else files such a petition. The court might order a DNA test and, if there is a match, will issue an Order Adjudicating Parentage accordingly along with the rights and duties of each parent to the child.
Effects of Establishing Paternity
There are benefits of establishing paternity for all parties involved, including:
- The father can seek conservatorship, possession, or access rights to the child
- Both parents will be expected to financially support the child, and one parent might be eligible for child support from the other
- The child will have a better chance at forming relationships with both parents
- The child can have inheritance rights, medical information, insurance coverage, and other benefits from having a legally established father
Once paternity is established, the court will want to decide on issues such as child custody (conservatorship in Texas) and child support, so you want a lawyer who can represent you in these matters, as well.
Contact an Experienced Tarrant County Paternity Attorney for Assistance
Establishing paternity is important for you as a parent and for your child in many ways, and it is further important to properly address all related legal issues, including conservatorship and child support. The paternity attorneys at Hoppes Family Law are committed to helping you obtain favorable results in your paternity case and all related matters. We serve clients throughout Tarrant County, Texas, including Hurst, Bedford, Colleyville, Keller, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, and Richland Hills, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 817-283-3999 with your paternity-related legal concerns today.