Many unmarried parents in Texas recognize the importance of ensuring a legal father-child relationship. When a parent is legally recognized as the father of a child, his parental rights and responsibilities will be guaranteed. In the event of a break in the relationship, the father will not have to endure time-consuming and costly litigation related to child custody, visitation and child support. Such issues can be resolved through mediation as in cases of married couples.
There are two ways of establishing paternity, and the method depends on the relationship between the child's mother and probable father. In established relationships where both parents are part of the child's life, a simple administrative process can provide legality to a father's rights. However, when the child's mother is unsure of the father's identity or the alleged father doubts the validity of the mother's claim, the issue may have to be resolved in court.
In the first method, both parents have to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) that will be held at the offices of the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Once this legal document is signed, the father's paternal rights will be established -- including all duties he will have as a parent. Even if it is impossible for a father to be present at the child's birth, an AOP may be signed at a later stage.
A mother who is trying to get the father of her child to accept his responsibilities as a father -- such as child support -- may need the assistance and guidance of an experienced family law attorney. Similarly, a father who denies paternity and subsequent child support payments may need legal assistance to prove his case. Both these cases form part of the regular caseload of family law attorneys who recognize the importance of legal relationships between fathers and their children, but also understands the consequences of false paternity allegations. More information about paternity is available on our family law website.
Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Paternity Establishment", , Oct. 3, 2014