Establishing Paternity in Texas

Establishing paternity in Texas has a few requirements that are unique to this state. A paternity action may arise because a parent must prove paternity before receiving child support or because a father wants to establish the legal relation between himself and the child.

In general, only the mother, a person purporting to be the father, an interested governmental agency or the child can file a paternity suit. In Texas, children have a presumed father if their mother was married at the time that they were born or conceived. If a child has a presumed father, the paternity action must be brought within four years of the birth of the child. However, a person can bring suit for paternity at any point if the child in question does not have a presumed father. A party can voluntarily establish paternity by acknowledging that he or she is the biological parent of the child when the parties were not married. Parents can also complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity form that establishes paternity without court involvement.

If the party bringing the suit and the other parent do not agree on paternity, the court orders a blood test. The court may split the costs of the test between the parents. If the test shows that there is a 99 percent or higher probability of the test subject being the parent, a case regarding child support, visitation or custody may continue. The court determines to which parent to give custody if the parties do not reach a decision regarding this matter without the court intervening.

After establishing paternity, parents may collaborate to reach a decision regarding child custody, visitation and child support issues. One method that parents use to accomplish this goal is to use the process of mediation.

Source: Findlaw, “Texas Paternity Suits“, September 01, 2014

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