When an unmarried woman gives birth, she will be the child’s sole legal parent unless she or the baby’s father takes steps to establish legal paternity. Naming a father on a birth certificate is not enough unless he acknowledges paternity in other ways.
Proving paternity is important for a variety of legal matters, including child support and child custody. If you are a parent who wishes to legally establish the identity of the child’s father, or if you are being accused of fathering a child you believe is not yours, a Frisco paternity lawyer could help.
People sometimes mistakenly believe that being a child’s biological father is the same as being their legal father, but that is not true. A man could be a legal father without being a biological father. For example, an adoptive father is a child’s legal father, though not their biological parent. The law presumes a husband married to a woman who gave birth is the child’s legal father. Similarly, a man who marries a pregnant woman or marries a woman soon after she gives birth is also presumed to be a baby’s legal father.
A legal father must support a child financially. He also has custody and visitation rights. If a legal father objects to these obligations, he could demand a genetic test to prove he is not the father. However, even if the man turns out not to be the biological father, the court might continue to hold him to his parental obligations if he has had a paternal relationship with the child. A Frisco paternity attorney could help a parent or couple understand the distinctions between legal and biological parenthood.
A man who wishes to establish legal paternity could sign a baby’s birth certificate in the hospital and complete a document called an Acknowledgment of Paternity. Both parents must sign the Acknowledgement and file it with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
For the Acknowledgment to be valid, the baby must not have another presumed father. This might be the scenario if if the woman is married to another man who is not the father of the child at the time of the child’s birth. According to Texas Family Code §160.303, a man who is a presumed father may sign a document denying paternity. In the example above, the mother’s husband could file a denial of paternity if the baby’s biological father files an acknowledgment of paternity. Doing so ensures the husband will not be responsible for the child’s financial support. It also allows the baby’s biological father to assume the rights and duties of parenthood.
If a man believes he is the father of a child, but the mother did not sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, he could seek to establish parental rights through a court proceeding. If the child has a presumed father, the biological father must bring the action before the child turns four years old. A Frisco attorney could help a parent bring or defend a paternity action.
Mothers typically seek to establish their child’s paternity to receive child support, have the child covered on the father’s health insurance, and access similar benefits. If the mother or child receives public assistance, the local social services agency could bring a paternity suit naming the father.
In most cases, if a father named in a paternity suit denies paternity, the court will order a DNA test. The father, mother, and child all submit a cheek swab to a lab, and the lab can determine with a high degree of certainty whether the man is the father. If so, the man is liable to pay child support.
Once a court determines a man is a father, he could assert parental rights over the child. This means he could seek joint conservatorship with the mother or even sole conservatorship. However, courts award these rights according to the best interests of the child. The court might deny access to the child if the man has a history of addiction or violence, has no prior relationship with the child, or if the court finds contact with the man would not serve the child’s best interests. For help collecting supporting evidence for paternity, child support, or custody cases, reach out to our Frisco attorneys.
Establishing that a child has two legal parents benefits the child in a variety of ways. If a paternity issue is impacting your family, act as soon as possible to resolve it.
Whether you seek to establish or dispute paternity, a Frisco paternity lawyer could provide strategic advice and vigorous representation. Contact our firm today to speak with a knowledgeable member of our team.
Our Law Firm’s approach to your case is based on individual circumstances. Whether it is a simple negotiated settlement, or it requires an aggressive approach, we will protect and defend your best interests.