Paternity is the legal process of establishing who the father of the child is. In Texas every child has a biological father, but every child may not have a legal father. Paternity actions are a way of establishing the legal father of a child. It is important for a child to have a legal father because it can help facilitate a relationship with both parents. By doing this your child will be able to learn about family history, including medical histories on both side of the child’s family.
In Texas before paternity is legal established, there can be an alleged father and a presumed father. It is important to understand the difference. An alleged father is basically just that- a person who either alleges himself, or is alleged by someone to be the father of the child, but who has not been legally established as the father. Typically DNA testing is required by the Court; if the DNA testing results indicate that the alleged father is the biological father, then the Court will adjudicate the alleged father to be the legal father of the child. Once this is done, the Court will make custody determinations and provide certain rights and duties to each parent regarding the child.
The presumed father is any man who meets one of the following criteria as laid out in the Texas Family Code:
- A man married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage;
- A man married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
- A man who married the mother of the child before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.
- A man who married the mother of the child after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with the law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily assert his paternity of the child, and:
- The assertion is in a recorded filed with the vital statists until;
- He is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the birth certificate; or
- He promised in a record to support the child as his own; or
- During the first wo years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to other that the child was his own.