When it comes to child custody cases, there are many times when fathers feel that they are not getting a fair deal. The perception is that Courts favor mothers, and it can be difficult for fathers to establish and protect their paternal rights.
The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that you have legally established your paternity with a child. In Texas, biological fathers are required to acknowledge their paternity by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AoP) form as soon as the child is born, or by signing the child’s birth certificate. Even if you are not legally married to the mother, if you have signed an AoP or have your name listed in the child’s birth certificate, you are given legal paternal rights over the child.
Having legal paternal rights not only protect your legal interests in raising the child and being a part of that child’s life, it also gives your child a more stable future.
In the event that a Acknowledgement of Paternity document is not signed, a Suit to Adjudicate Parentage can also be filed.Mistaken Paternity
When a father discovers that they are not the biological father of a child, it is called mistaken paternity. If this occurs, the father then has two options:
- He can file a court petition for mistaken paternity, and terminate his rights as a parent. He will no longer be obligated to help in raising the child, nor will he be obligated to pay child support. However, in most instances he will no longer have any visitation rights with the child;
- He can file a court petition to transfer paternal rights to him, if the biological father of the child agrees to remove his rights as the biological father.
If a man signs an AoP form then finds out that he is not the biological father of the child, he will not be held legally bound to the terms of the AoP. A man who finds out that he is not the biological father of a child but does not file for mistaken paternity retains all his paternal rights, but in case he wishes to file in the future, he must file for mistaken paternity within one year of finding out.
Remember, if you chose to remove your paternal rights, this will be permanent. You can never apply to have them re-instated to you. If you have having problems with your paternal rights, contact the Family Lawyer at Lyttle Law firm so that we can guide you with the rights and legal options that you have.