During divorces involving children, many male parents may start to question the paternity of the child. In Texas, presumption, voluntary acknowledgement, and court order are the three ways to establish paternity. Establishing paternity gives fathers certain rights, but it also may prevent someone who is not the legal father from having to pay child support unnecessarily.
Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC, understands that paternity issues are delicate and emotional for both father figures and children. We use extreme discretion to protect our clients and their children during paternity proceedings. Whether you’re going through a divorce or you have a child outside of a marriage, we can help you determine paternity and protect your rights as a father or as a presumed father.
Under state law, you are a presumed father if:
- You were married to the mother when the child was born,
- A mother has a child 300 days after a marriage with you ends,
- You have claimed paternity in formal documentation, or,
- You lived with a child and acted as his or her parent during the child’s first two years.
A presumed father is legally obligated to act as a father, with all attendant rights and responsibilities, unless the biological father acknowledges paternity and the presumed father files a Denial of Paternity. A presumed father who is not the biological father can also remove legal obligation via a court order.
If you are not a presumed father, you and the mother of the child can sign a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, which declares you as the biological father. You do have an opportunity to reject paternity acknowledgement by filing a Rescission of Acknowledgement of Paternity within 60 days of filing the acknowledgement and before any court case is filed. You may also challenge your acknowledgement in certain circumstances.
In addition to presumption and acknowledgment, the court may also establish parentage during a formal paternity case. A man who believes he is the biological father, the mother or next of kin, the child, or another approved party can file a paternity case to determine the true parentage.
To settle any disagreements over parentage, the courts may order genetic testing of the mother, child, and father in question. You have rights during paternity cases, and every case is different. A qualified paternity attorney can help you navigate through the establishment of parentage as well as any secondary issues, including visitation, custody, and child support.
Why Worry About Paternity?
If you have no reason to contest fatherhood rights, then a paternity suit is unnecessary. Paternity cases are helpful to prove the responsibility of a father for child support purposes, to help a father retain his rights to custody and visitation, and to help a child understand his or her parentage.
Whether you are actively pursuing a case or you have been sued, you need legal support to help protect your rights under Texas law. Circumstances change quickly, which may affect your rights as a caretaker or a legal father. If you fail to respond to an open lawsuit, you may not have an opportunity to plead your side of the case.
Paternity Attorney Fort Hood
As a mother or father concerned about the establishment of paternity, you may have many questions regarding the legal process. Paternity can be a very complex area of law, particularly when the individuals in question are unwilling to cooperate. The team of Killeen family law attorneys at Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC, wants to help you maintain your benefits and rights as a parent or a mistaken parent.
Every case is unique, and we will work with you to ensure a successful conclusion. To get started, please reach out to our office for a free case evaluation.