Establishing a man as a child's legal father is beneficial to the father, the child, the mother and the family as a whole. If a child's biological father was not acknowledged as the child's legal father at birth, there are options to establish legal paternity in Texas.

Establishing paternity means creating legal fatherhood for the father and creating a more secure future for the child. Texas law declares that a child born to unmarried parents has no legal father, so establishing or acknowledging helps protect the legal rights of the father, child and mother.

If it is not established, the child may not have access to benefits like the father's health insurance, Social Security benefits or Veterans benefits. In addition, a father does not have a legal right to child custody or visitation unless paternity is established. Finally, unless it has been established, a court cannot order a father to pay child support.

Paternity of a child can be established in Texas in three ways: by legal presumption, by an acknowledgement or by court order.

Presumed Paternity

If a child's parents are married when the child is born or were married within 300 days of the birth, the husband is presumed the legal father of the child. No further action must be taken to establish paternity. A man is also presumed the legal father of a child if he marries the child's mother after the child is born and voluntarily claims paternity. In addition, a man may be presumed the legal father of a child if he lived continuously with the child at least until the child turned 2 years old and represented the child as being his own.

Acknowledgment of Paternity

Legal fatherhood can also be established through an Acknowledgement of Paternity. These forms are available at hospitals and through the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Both parents must sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity and file it with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The father's name may be placed on the child's birth certificate after paternity is established through an Acknowledgement of Paternity, which may be signed before or after the child is born.

Adjudication of Parentage

A judge also may establish a man as a child's legal father through an adjudication of parentage. In some cases, there may be a dispute over a child's legal father, or the mother, father or adult child may wish to have a court order establishing paternity. The court may use genetic testing to establish he is the father.

Ask a Divorce Attorney in Bryan

If you would like to secure your right to visitation or possession of a child, would like to have a court order ordering a father to pay child support or have questions relating to other issues, contact us online or call 979-583-9200. The Law Office of Brian Turner is located in Bryan, Texas.