When a child is born to a married couple in Texas, the couple is legally considered the parents of the child – the husband is legally considered the father of the child unless a court has determined he is not the father. But what happens when the couple is not married, as is the case more and more frequently, or a mother is unsure of who the father is? In these cases, paternity has to be established.
Paternity basically means fatherhood. There are two ways to establish paternity – voluntarily and involuntarily. To establish it voluntarily, both parents fill out a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. It is also possible to sign a form similar to this one, preferably prepared by an attorney.
When paternity is under dispute, the potential father can be taken to court and a paternity lawsuit can be brought against him. DNA tests and genetic testing are then performed to determine who the father is. If the man is found to be the father, he may be accountable for child support. Genetic testing can establish paternity with 99 percent accuracy.
It is essential for a child to have a healthy relationship with both parents, regardless of the parents’ relationship with one another. Once paternity is established, fathers’ rights such as visitation and custody can be sought so the father can work on developing a relationship with their child. In addition to this, if the mother wishes to give a child up for adoption but the father doesn’t consent, she may not be able to do so.
Source: FindLaw, “Legal Significance of Paternity,” Accessed Aug. 4, 2015