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Understanding Paternity: A Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody and Support

Understanding Paternity: A Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody and Support Paternity is an important legal concept in Texas, as it determines the father's rights to visitation, custody, and support of a child. Paternity establishes both the financial and legal relationship between the father and their children. Generally, fathers are required to provide support for the care of a child—such as housing, clothing, food, and medical care—until the child turns 18. Furthermore, a father may have certain visitation rights toward their children as determined by a court order.

In Texas, paternity can be established through administrative, voluntary, or contested processes. Administrative paternity is obtained when parents who are married file an official form with the government declaring that they are parents of children born inside wedlock or who were born outside wedlock but would like to establish paternity before paternity is questioned or challenged. Voluntary process involves signing a document declaring that each parent acknowledges they are genetically related to their child with no question of doubt in regard to this fact. Lastly, the contested process occurs when two parties disagree on who is legally responsible for providing support and raising children; in such cases, there will be a courtroom hearing with the evidence presented by both parties so that judges may make a final decision on the biography responsibility of each parent towards their child.

Texas Law

Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code provides guidelines for determining paternity. One method involves adding the father's name to the child's birth certificate, with the option of making modifications through legal channels. Parentage is the broader term that encompasses any type of legal determination of both parents in a child's life, whether those parents are past or current. Establishing parentage typically requires filing a document called an "Acknowledgment of Parentage" with the court.

Chapter 160 outlines thirteen distinct methods for establishing parentage in Texas, along with processes for terminating parental rights or adjudicating disputes between parents seeking parental rights and responsibilities. This chapter also addresses issues such as providing for alimony payments, limitations on when claims may be brought concerning parenthood, and requirements regarding genetic testing prior to paternity being established. Through these regulations, Texas seeks to ensure that all parents involved in their children’s lives are acknowledged by law and have appropriate recognition throughout any subsequent collective media. Additionally, such recognition provides much-needed protection and security to all those elements of the family unit involved in the court proceedings pertaining to overall parenthood and guardianship matters.

Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity is the process of legally identifying a father for a child in cases where the parents may not be married at the time of her birth. A paternity order from the court can be used to legally establish the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. This is important for any benefits or rights that depend on legal recognition like social security, inheritance, health insurance, and custody and visitation rights. In Texas, district courts handle paternity proceedings and include forms with instructions on how to set up an order. The court document must include all necessary information about both parents and if the process is complete it will add a new entry to the father’s name on the birth certificate replacing “Father Unknown” or “Parental Information Not Available.”

The Texas Attorney General also has instructions and forms to help guide this process as well as provide a link to the Department of State Health Service's page where people can find applications needed to amend a birth certificate based on parentage. This should only take place after both parties agree upon a paternity determination or after courts declare parentage through a court-ordered judgment or other court documents such as an administrative agency order which results in an amended birth certificate.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Texas

An experienced family law attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you explain and navigate the entire case process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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