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Paternity

Acknowledging paternity

In Texas, establishing paternity is an easy process which a father can do once their child is born. Acknowledging paternity means that the law recognizes the father of a child, giving that person all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that come with being a parent. The child is also given all the rights and privileges from establishing paternity, such as health insurance and inheritance rights.

Once a child is born, paternity can immediately be established by obtaining an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AoP) form from the hospital. To be legally binding, the form must be signed by both the father and the mother of the child. If the AoP form is signed at the hospital, the name of the father is added to the child’s birth certificate without any additional expense. The hospital will then file the AoP on behalf of the parents. Signing the AoP gives the child a more stable future by recognizing parental rights that would benefit the child. If the father is not present at the hospital during childbirth, the mother can bring the AoP form for the father to sign, however, it becomes the father’s responsibility to file the document at the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics.

If the mother has gone through a divorce with a person other than the child’s biological father within 300 days of the birth, the ex-spouse must sign a Denial of Paternity (DoP) form, otherwise, the biological father of the child cannot be recognized by law. A denial of paternity must also be signed in the event that a mother is married to someone who is not the biological father of the child.

What if One Parent Refuses to Acknowledge Paternity?

When either parent refuses to acknowledge paternity, a Suit to Adjudicate Parentage can be filed with the Court. A suit to adjudicate parentage is used to prove that a man who is not presumed, acknowledged, or previously an adjudicated father, is the father of a child or to prove that a man who is the presumed father is not the child’s father. When a man whose paternity has been adjudicated and he is not the biological father, a Suit to Challenge Adjudication of Parentage can also be filed.

If the father refuses to acknowledge the child, the mother can file for sole custody, if she believes that she is capable of raising the child on her own. Essentially, the biological father will be stripped of all legal rights and privileges regarding his child. On the other hand, if the mother refuses to acknowledge paternity, the court can dictate that she acknowledge the father’s paternity, along with the accompanying rights and privileges. Unless the parties come to an agreement, the court will order a paternity test to determine if the man is the child’s biological father.

If you’re experiencing any legal problems regarding the paternity of your child, the child custody lawyer at the Lyttle Law Firm can help. We have experience both informally mediating paternity issues and litigating paternity issues in Court. We will review your case, and guide you towards the best possible resolution for you to take to establish your rights.