In Texas, establishing the child’s mother is straightforward. However, establishing the parent child relationship between a father and his child is far more complicated. In the Austin area, an Attorney General Suit to Establish Paternity or Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship, is a common occurrence. Child support cases and child custody cases are started frequently, and it’s important to understand your rights as a man and a father.
This is a very confusing area of the law in Texas, and this blog, while a helpful overview, is not comprehensive. If you are looking for an attorney in the central Texas area to assist with either defending against a paternity claim, figuring out paternity, or establishing paternity, our office can help. This is a case type we regularly handle. Please contact us online or call our office at 512-944-3329 for a free twenty-minute consult.
Paternity is another word for determining who the legal father of a child is in Texas. The most common way to establish a man’s paternity is establishing an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity. There are three circumstances in which a man can be presumed to be a child’s father. The first is if a child is born during the husband and wife's marriage. Even if the parties divorce, the man will still be presumed the father if the child is born within three hundred days.
The second circumstance is when a man marries (or attempts to marry) the child’s mother after the child’s birth and voluntarily claims paternity after the child was born. There are two ways for the father to voluntarily claim paternity, such as being named on the child’s birth certificate or promising on record to support the child as his own. While a record has historically meant a physical record, this can include any retrievable electronic medium that is “retrievable in a perceivable form.”
Lastly, a man can be presumed the father if he assumes that role. If during the first two years of the child’s life, the man resided in the household with the child and represented to others that child was his, that is sufficient to create a presumption of paternity.
Though a man can be presumed to be the child’s father, that is not to say that paternity cannot be challenged or rebutted. A challenge can be brought within four years if shown that the child is not the man’s through genetic testing or a written denial of paternity together with a written acknowledgement of paternity of another man who is willing to take that role. However, there is an exception to bringing this challenge within four years. You could bring it after four years if the Court finds the presumed father and mother did not live together during the time the child was conceived. The second is if the man had a mistaken belief the child was his because the mother lied and misrepresented the child was his. In both scenarios, a judge may still find it’s not in the best interest of the child to disprove the parent-child relationship. You need an experienced attorney to guide you through this process and argument.
Besides a father making an unrebutted presumption or otherwise making an acknowledgement of paternity, he can become an “adjudicated” father through an order of a court, adopting the child, or consenting reproduction by his spouse which resulted in a child.
All of the above options illustrate that it is not always so simple to figure out who the father is – which can have serious implications on custody, possession and access, and child support.
Once again, this is a very confusing area of the law in Texas. If you are looking for an attorney in the central Texas area to assist with either defending against a paternity claim, figuring out paternity, or establishing paternity, our office can help. This is a case type we regularly handle. Please contact us online or call our office at 512-944-3329 for a free twenty-minute consult.