Texas Courts generally take the stance that children have a right to know who their parents are. However, the court also seeks to protect children who have known one person as their father for years and who could be traumatized by a paternity suit.

The recognition of paternity is an important issue to resolve in regard to child custody, child support, and child visitation rights for people who have children out of wedlock, or who are separated at the time of birth. If you are a mother seeking child support, you will need to establish your child’s paternity to obtain a support order from the court. If you are a father seeking visitation or custody, you may need to legally establish paternity to recover your rights as a father.

According to Texas law, if an unmarried man and woman have a child, the child does not have a legal father unless the parents establish the paternity of the child. The simplest way to establish paternity is to complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital when the child is born.

Paternity can also be established by filing a lawsuit with the court in the county where the child resides. A petition to establish the paternity of a child can be filed by a mother wishing to enforce child support obligations and receive assistance in raising the child. A paternity suit can also be filed by an alleged father to establish that he is not the biological father of a child, thereby allowing that person to forego supporting a child that does not belong to him. A father wishing to formally establish his rights as a parent can also file a paternity suit.

When a paternity action is filed with the court, the court typically orders DNA testing to resolve whether the child is the biological child of the man who is subject of the lawsuit. Depending upon the results of the test, the man is either informed he either does, or does not, have legal obligations and rights concerning the child. Assuming the man is the biological father, the establishment of paternity through a court order allows him to proceed with a legal action to request custody or visitation rights to the child.

At Duffee + Eitzen LLP, we have represented many men and women in paternity cases. Whether you are seeking to establish or to refute paternity of a child, we can assist you. We will help protect your rights, including establishing legal parental rights and duties, visitation of the child, and child support to protect the child’s best interests.

Contact us today for more information regarding paternity suits and to learn how we can help protect you and/or your child.