If you believe you are the father of a child, establishing parentage sooner rather than later is in the best interest of you and your child. Whether the child in question is a newborn whom you suspect you fathered, a teen whom you did not know about until now, or a child of any age in between, better understanding Texas paternity laws can help – and having an experienced Copperas Cove family law attorney in your corner is well advised.
Paternity Must Be Established
If you are the biological father of a child in Texas – or believe that you are – you have no parental rights until paternity is established. Before the court can move forward with the legal process, you will need to obtain a court-ordered paternity test, which is a simple DNA test. Once the results come back, proving that you are the father – which can take from 4 to 6 weeks – you can begin to take your next steps.
Acknowledgment of Paternity
Once the results of your paternity test are received by the court, you will be sent a legal document called Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP), which means that the court acknowledges that you are, indeed, the father of the child in question. If you and your child’s mother are able to establish a visitation schedule that you are both willing to sign off on, the court will very likely accept your plans. If no such agreement is forthcoming, however, the court will establish your right to visitation on your behalf – by handing down a visitation schedule.
Having Your Name Included on Your Child’s Birth Certificate
The next step in the process involves having your name added as your child’s father on his or her birth certificate, which can help you avoid future paternity issues. This step can become a challenge if your child’s mother decides to fight the addition of your name in court, but it is a matter that is worth legal pursuit (for both you and your child).
If another man is already on your child’s birth certificate or is incorrectly recognized as your child’s father, it is a matter of mistaken paternity, and the path forward can be even more challenging. Consider the following necessary steps:
Terminating the legal parentage relationship, including setting a termination date
Establishing the newly identified father’s rights, including child custody arrangements and child support
Correcting the birth certificate to acknowledge the newly identified father
Seek the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you are facing a paternity concern, it is difficult on a variety of levels, and Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Copperas Cove, Texas, is a compassionate family law attorney who recognizes the profound importance of establishing your parental rights and has the experience, skill, and legal insight to help. Your case is important, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 to learn more about what we can do for you today.