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Paternity: A Journey from Father to Dad

Posted on in Child Custody

Texas family law, Texas complex custody attorney, Texas paternity lawyer,Paternity is one of the most important concepts in the Texas Family Code. For mothers, it helps guarantee financial support for their children. For fathers, paternity is the only way to legally share in their children's lives; moreover, in most cases, only legal fathers can petition for child custody. Finally, for children, a paternity action gives the feeling that they belong to a family, regardless of who lives where.

Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, which is also known as the Uniform Parentage Act, sets out the procedure for establishing paternity. Unlike some other states that have administrative shortcuts that only settle a few issues, paternity in Texas is a once-and-for-all proposition.

Presumption

A man is presumed to be a child's father if they were married at the time of birth, or the child was born within 300 days of the marriage's legal dissolution. The same presumption applies if the couple voluntarily cohabitates for at least two years after the child's birth, or the man makes takes certain actions, including a verifiable promise to provide financial support and placing his name on the child's birth certificate.

A presumed father may challenge that presumption in court, under some circumstances.

Acknowledgement and Denial

These voluntary statements have the same effect as a court order. There is no specific form, but the acknowledgement or denial must:

  • Be part of an official record, like a birth certificate;
  • Contain the signatures of both the mother and man;
  • State whether there has been genetic testing and, if applicable, the results of that test;
  • Clearly state that the acknowledgement or denial has the same force as a court order; and
  • State that there is no other alleged or probable father.

Either party can rescind the document within 60 days; after that period, the claimant must prove duress, fraud, or material mistake of fact.

Adjudication

Typically, either party has four years from the child's birth date to file a paternity action. Although it can be filed before birth, it cannot be finalized until after birth.

In most cases, the judge orders genetic testing, and requires the parties to split the cost. The results are nearly always indisputable, one way or another. If either party wishes to challenge the test results, or a test is not practical, for whatever reason, the matter may proceed to a trial before the judge.

For a consultation with an aggressive Cedar Park family law attorney who routinely handles complex custody matters, contact our office.

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