In Texas – and in every other state – when a married couple has a baby, the husband automatically becomes the child’s legal father (unless this fact is legally contested). When, however, a child is born to a couple who is not married, the matter becomes more complicated, and there is no automatic legal assumption regarding who the father is. To identify a child’s legal father, there are important legal steps involved, and an experienced Harker Heights family law attorney can help.
The Two-Step Process
In Texas, in order to have a father’s name added to a child’s birth certificate, there is a two-step process involved, and the steps include:
Establishing paternity (or determining who the father is)
Completing the necessary legal form
The Benefits of Adding the Father to the Birth Certificate
It is important to recognize how beneficial and important adding a child’s father to his or her birth certificate can be. Consider the following:
It helps to ensure that the bond between father and child has the opportunity to grow (via child custody arrangements), which benefits both father and child.
It allows the child to inherit from his or her father via the state’s inheritance laws.
It allows the child to collect applicable benefits that flow from the father, such as Social Security benefits.
It helps to ensure that the child is supported financially by both parents (via child support payments).
If both parents are in agreement regarding a child’s paternity, they can establish this by executing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form and submitting it to the state. This path requires no DNA testing or further complexities. If, however, either the father or the mother doubts or denies paternity, DNA (or genetic) testing is necessary. Both the father and the child’s DNA will be tested and compared, and if there is a match, the father will be recognized by the law as the child’s legal father. This, however, does not mean that the father will automatically be included on the birth certificate.
Completing the Necessary Form
Once paternity is established via DNA testing, either parent can move forward to the final step, which is the completion of the Texas Vital Statistics Form VS-166, Application for a New Birth Certificate Based on Parentage. This form must be submitted to the Texas Vital Statistics Office, which will generate a new birth certificate for the child.