A man’s paternal rights and parental responsibilities are tied to a judicial finding of paternity. As explained by the Texas Office of Attorney General, “paternity is legal fatherhood.” If a man has any doubts about his biological relationship with a child, he should seek a paternity test. It is the best and clearest way to resolve this important question in our state.
In this blog post, our Dallas paternity lawyers highlight the key things that men should know about DNA testing in Texas.
Understanding the Different Ways Paternity Can be Established in Texas
In the eyes of the law, paternity is fatherhood in Texas. Without paternity, a man has no formal access to these parental rights, and he cannot seek child visitation or child custody from a court.
Along the same lines, a man has no parental responsibilities without paternity. A man cannot be required to pay child support if there has not been a finding of paternity. It is important to know that there are three different ways that paternity can be established in Texas:
- Birth During (or near)Marriage: In Texas, a married man is automatically presumed to be the parent of his wife’s child. This same principle applies to a child born to his wife within 301 days following the dissolution of the marriage, or a child born to a woman who he later marries No action needs to be taken, and no forms need to be filed. However, a man would need to take legal action to disestablish paternity if he has doubts about his child’s parentage.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement: It is not difficult for unmarried couples to establish paternity in Texas. While not automatic, the mother and putative father can jointly file a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. If a man has doubts over paternity, he should get genetic testing before completing such a form. The form will establish parental rights and responsibilities, including the obligation to support that child.
- Legal Order: Finally, paternity can be established via a court proceeding. Most often, this happens after there is some dispute over paternity. In Texas, the overwhelming majority of disputes over paternity are resolved with genetic testing of a child. An alleged father or a child’s mother can file a Motion to request the Court order genetic testing, or the parties could agree that this be completed.
A Man Has a Right to Seek a Paternity Test to Clear Up Doubts
A man has a right to seek a genetic test to determine his child’s parentage, and these tests are extremely accurate.
A man in Texas can seek a paternity test in a wide range of different circumstances. Here are some notable examples:
- A man with doubts about a child’s parentage can seek a DNA test before paternity is assigned.
- A married man can seek a paternity test if he does not believe he is the father of his wife’s child (but he needs to act quickly, as there are limitations periods)
A child’s mother does not have the authority to block a DNA test in a paternity case. A man in Texas can get a court-ordered DNA test if he is being sued for paternity or he is trying to disestablish paternity. A Texas family law attorney can help you navigate the legal process.
Call Our Texas Paternity Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson, LLP, our Dallas paternity law attorneys have extensive experience representing fathers in paternity cases. If you have any questions about paternity testing, we are here to help. Give us a call now at 214-273-2400 or contact us here for a strictly confidential review of your case. Our attorneys provide family law representation in Dallas and throughout North Texas.