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What is the legal definition of a father?

Although we understand in general terms how a father is defined, sometimes we may not understand how the law defines a person as a father. For the purposes of Texas law, a father may be defined in a number of ways. Sometimes, depending on the legal classification of father, a person may possess different rights under the law. In such cases, it is important to understand how a father is defined.

According to the Findlaw website, a man may be presumed to be a father of a child under certain conditions. First, the man and the mother of the child are currently or were married to each other, and the child was born at a time during the marriage or within three hundred days after the dissolution of the marriage. Additionally, a man may be considered a father if he and the mother tried to marry, but the marriage was or might be invalidated by law, and the child was born while the couple was married or within the three hundred day post-marriage timespan.

Other factors can include the following:

  • The man is listed on the birth certificate of the child as the father with his consent
  • The man has confirmed his paternity in a written document
  • A court order has obligated the man to support the child
  • The man supports a child by a voluntary agreement
  • The man resides with a minor child and has claimed the child as his biological offspring

Under Texas law, a man may be considered to be a “presumed father” under Section 160.204 under specific circumstances, including if the man openly claimed to be a biological parent of a child while residing with the child, if the man sired a child during marriage, or if a child was born no less than three hundred days after the dissolution of a marriage. This status can be challenged in court. However, if a court affirms the father’s parentage, the man is considered to be an "adjudicated father" under Texas law.

This article is intended to provide information on the legal defintion of a father and should not be taken as legal advice.

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