Finding out that you will be a father can be a thrilling and terrifying experience. You may feel unprepared, unsure of yourself, and even wonder whether this is something you want to do at all. However, despite the challenges of being a parent, establishing paternity under Texas law can benefit everyone - the father, the mother, and, most importantly, the child. Understanding how paternity is established in Texas and why it is important to establish paternity is a great first step in becoming a responsible father.
How Is Paternity Established in Texas?
If a man and a woman are married, establishing paternity is straightforward - the man is presumed to be the child’s father. Likewise, if a child is born within 300 days of a couple’s divorce, the former husband is still presumed to be the child’s father.
If parents are unmarried, however, the process is a little more complicated. If both parents agree that the alleged father is indeed the father of the child, they can sign a legally valid acknowledgment form declaring paternity. Both parents must sign the form to be valid.
If the child’s mother does not agree to sign the acknowledgement form, a paternity suit can be filed and a DNA test administered to determine paternity. DNA tests are necessary if anyone contests the paternity - you, the mother, or any other man who could reasonably be the child’s father. They are painless and straightforward, and have a nearly perfect accuracy rate.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Although the circumstances requiring a man to prove paternity may be uncomfortable, there are major benefits to knowing who a child’s father is. You, as the father, benefit by having your name on the child’s birth certificate and laying a firm foundation for legitimizing your future relationship with the child.
The mother of a child also benefits from not being responsible for another life entirely on her own. Single mothers face notoriously challenging circumstances - establishing paternity allows them to seek child support and have another adult assist in raising the child.
But it is the child who stands to benefit the most from having a father in his or her life. The research on fatherless children is quite clear - even if you are unsure whether you can be a great father, your son or daughter needs you. Children do best with two supportive parents and your relationship with your child will be an ongoing source of joy and meaning in your life and theirs.
Speak with a Plano, TX Paternity Lawyer
If you have questions about establishing paternity, an experienced Collin County parentage attorney with the Law Office of Brian Bagley may be able to help. We have worked with fathers in many different scenarios to establish paternity and petition for custody of their child. Call our offices today at (972) 843-7158 to schedule a free consultation.