Updated on August 23, 2022
When a couple that is not married has a child together, establishing paternity can be an important matter that may significantly affect the rights and responsibilities of the parents and the child.
When a couple is married, the paternity of a child born of that marriage is a matter of law, but an unmarried couple must take additional steps to establish their child’s paternity. If you have a legal issue related to paternity, you should call a Killeen family law attorney as soon as you can.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity
Establishing a child’s paternity is important on a variety of different levels, including for the following reasons:
For Establishing Legal Rights
Paternity is important for establishing a father’s custody rights. These rights extend to the right to receive important information about the child’s medical care, education, and religious upbringing and can include the father’s right to participate in the decision-making processes related to these subjects.
For Ensuring Financial Support and Benefits
Paternity helps to ensure that the child will be supported financially by both parents, sometimes through child support payments. In addition, paternity can ensure that the child benefits from inheritance laws, from the father’s work-sponsored health insurance, from the father’s military benefits, and more.
For Purposes of Personal Identity
Paternity opens up the father’s side of the family to the child, which is usually an enriching experience for all involved.
For Purposes of Fostering a Father-Child Relationship
Research indicates that children are healthier and happier when they have two parents in their lives.
For Health Reasons
A child’s medical records and history are not complete without important information related to his or her father. When the child's paternity is established, he or she has more thorough access to information about important health matters that can inform future medical diagnosis and treatment.
In the State of Texas, when a couple has a child while married, paternity is presumed. When a mother is unmarried, determining paternity can be more complicated.
When a child is born in Texas to an unwed mother, paternity remains undetermined until the couple signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP), which can be done in the hospital at the time of birth. The AOP is then filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit, and the child’s paternity and all parental rights and responsibilities are subsequently established.
The AOP is free to complete, and if the father is not available to sign it at the hospital, he can file it later at a state-certified office.
Paternity can also be established by court order, which is typically achieved with genetic testing.
The matter of establishing paternity in Texas can become very complicated very quickly, and having a Killeen family law attorney in your corner is an excellent place to start.
Issues with Paternity
Sometimes, paternity is unclear for any number of reasons. If the presumptive father denies his paternity, for example, it will need to be established through the court. This can be accomplished by opening a child support case with the Office of the Attorney General. Establishing paternity early in a child’s life is important for emotional, legal, and financial reasons, and an experienced Killeen family law attorney can help.
Paternity Concerns? Consult with an Experienced Killeen Attorney Today!
Establishing a child’s paternity is in his or her best interests, and Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to helping parents with legal issues related to paternity.
Your child's medical care, financial support, and emotional support system can all be significantly affected by the establishment of paternity, and our dedicated legal team is on your side. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 today.