Paternity Laws in Texas
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What is paternity (or fatherhood)? When a child is born, it is obvious who the mother is, but the father is considered to
be a stranger to the child under Texas law unless the mother and father are married, or the father is determined by court
order. What happens when the father and mother are not married and do not intend to get married? The fathers rights and obligations
of fatherhood should be established by a court under Texas law.
What follows in this text are three general points which are important to the subject of paternity, but are not
intended to provide you with legal advice.
First, if you have a child, but are not married, how is paternity established?
Paternity is established through the court system by one of several methods when a child is born and the parents are
not married. If a man is identifed on the birth certificate, this creates only a presumption that the man
named is the father of the child. Paternity testing (genetic testing), welcoming the child into the father's home, or providing gifts to the child
are other pieces of evidence the court would use in favor of establishing paternity.
Second, what are the fathers rights once paternity has been established?
The father does have the right under Texas law to regular visitation if the child is to remain in the primary custody of the
mother. This visitation schedule does include holidays and weekends and is usually arranged by the court if the father and
mother cannot come to an agreement on this issue. If the father feels that he should be the primary caregiver of the child,
this too is generally determined by the court. In addition, another right a father has is access to the child's medical and
Finally, what are the fathers obligations once paternity has been established?
Under Texas law, the father, once identified by the State, is responsible for contributing to the welfare and upbringing of
the child. This includes such things as child support, health insurance for the child, and the future education of the child.
Again, the court system will determine these issues and to what extent the father and mother are obligated in terms of money.
Remember, fatherhood, or paternity, involves rights and obligations for both the father and the mother. Agreements
between the parents are encouraged and welcomed by Texas courts. If you would like me to help you with paternity
or have other questions, please email me
or contact my office at 214-373-9292 for an appointment. I look forward to helping you.
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