When a child is born outside of marriage, there could be a legal question about the child’s paternity. Even if the mother is certain who the father is, the child will not have a legal father if the father does not acknowledge the child.
Though, men do not always want to deny paternity. Sometimes, a man wishes to establish his paternity to obtain visitation rights with his child. In other cases, a man who is not a child’s biological father might want to assume a paternal relationship with a stepchild.
No matter the specific circumstances of your situation, an experienced family attorney at our firm could help. A Pflugerville paternity lawyer at Angela Faye Brown & Associates, PLLC, could explain the options for establishing paternity in your particular case.
Establishing Paternity At Birth
A man could establish that he is a baby’s father by signing the birth certificate when the child is born. Alternatively, he could sign an Acknowledgement of Parentage that the hospital provides. According to Texas Family Code §160.204a (5), a man is also presumed to be a child’s father if he lived with the mother and child after the child’s birth and treated the child as his own.
If a man married a mother while she was pregnant or shortly after giving birth, he is presumed to be a baby’s father, though he could rebut that presumption with a genetic test. A man who was married to the mother within 300 days of a child’s birth is also assumed to be the baby’s father.
An adoptive father is a legal father and has the same rights and responsibilities as a biological father. A man is a legal father if his wife conceived using artificial means with his consent. Regardless of how a man came to be acknowledged as a child’s legal father, the legal father is liable for child support. Legal fathers also could pursue visitation and custody rights to their children.
Legal Proceedings To Establish Paternity
An individual or government agency could petition a court to establish a child’s paternity. An action to establish paternity could be brought by either parent, a man who denies paternity, the child or a social service agency if the child receives public assistance. A dedicated Pflugerville attorney could prepare a petition to establish paternity on behalf of a mother or a presumed father.
If a mother or social service agency brings an action to establish parentage and names a man the presumed father, he must attend a court hearing. If he does not appear, the court could enter a default judgment naming the man the child’s legal father.
A judge may order a man who wants to assert or dispute paternity to undergo a genetic test. The man and the child will both take DNA tests that can establish whether they are parent and child. If the results indicate a genetic match, the judge will issue an order adjudicating him the legal father.
Implications Of Legal Paternity
A child’s legal father has the right to visitation with the child unless a mother could prove the father unfit, abusive or neglectful. Even when there are concerns about a father’s ability to provide a safe environment, judges often will allow visitation but require it to be supervised. A knowledgeable Pflugerville paternity attorney could advise a mother with concerns about allowing unsupervised visitation about her legal options.
A legal father is obliged to pay child support. Complying with child support obligations is required, regardless of the quality of the father’s relationship with the child. A father must pay child support even if he has no contact with his child.
In addition to child support, a child is entitled to other benefits as well. The child is entitled to be covered by the father’s health insurance. If the father dies, the child has inheritance rights equal to any of the father’s other children. The child could receive Social Security benefits, veterans benefits and life insurance proceeds, if applicable. Knowing who the father is also potentially provides the child access to extended family, knowledge about hereditary health conditions, and a sense of belonging.
Trust A Pflugerville Paternity Attorney With Your Case
If you need to establish or refute paternity, consult a legal professional at Angela Faye Brown & Associates, PLLC, as soon as possible. A Pflugerville paternity lawyer could explain the process and the implications of identifying a child’s legal father.
If a child’s paternity is in question, there is no benefit to delay. Reach out to a skilled attorney by calling our Houston office at 281-975-0307 or our Austin office at 512-572-1207 to schedule a case review today.