Longview Paternity Lawyer
Compassionate East Texas Family Law Services
Paternity is another term for fatherhood. In a legal context, establishing paternity means determining who the law considers to be the father of a child. This determination creates certain rights and responsibilities for that person with relation to the child. Every child has a biological father but not every child has an established legal father.
Establishing paternity in East Texas allows the child to be eligible for benefits like child support, health insurance, veteran survivor benefits, and Social Security. It also provides the father with legal rights concerning the child.
If you need assistance establishing paternity, contact The Hollwarth Law Firm at 903-234-0711 today.
The Paternity Process in Texas
A father can voluntarily establish paternity by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form. Both the mother and the father sign this form and file it with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. The parents can complete this form before or after the child’s birth.
The AOP form can often be completed at the hospital when the child is born. It can also be completed at the county birth registrar’s office, at the Office of the Attorney General, or with other AOP-certified entities.
In situations where the parents cannot agree to complete an AOP form, paternity can be established through a court order. This method specifically requests the court to issue an “order adjudicating parentage.” In such a suit, the person who files the proceeding is generally seeking genetic testing to determine paternity. These suits are advisable if a woman has alleged a man to be a father and he is uncertain if the child is his own. The mother, father, and sometimes the child can initiate this proceeding.
In this type of situation, one of three things can happen after you file your petition to adjudicate parentage:
- The father will fail to appear: If the father fails to appear, the court will enter a default judgment. Because the father did not appear to contest the claim, the judge will determine that he is the legal father and will enter an order accordingly, following sworn testimony regarding the relationship between the parties at the time of the child’s conception.
- The father appears and does not contest the order. If the father appears and agrees that he is the biological father, the court will enter an order adjudicating parentage immediately but will likely encourage genetic testing.
- The father appears and contests the order. If the father appears and does not believe he is the biological father of the child or desires confirmation that he is the father, he can request genetic testing. In situations like these, the child and the man alleged to be the father will undergo DNA testing to determine paternity. The court will enter an order based on the results of the DNA test.
The Court enters orders regarding child support, visitation, and conservatorship during these types of proceedings as well.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Establishing Paternity in Texas?
There is no statute of limitations for a lawsuit to establish paternity in Texas. However, there is a limit on the amount of retroactive child support that a mother could recover if she prevails in a lawsuit to establish paternity.
Throughout this process, both parties have the right to an attorney. It can be extremely helpful to have a Longview paternity lawyer from The Hollwarth Law Firm on your side during this proceeding so that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities.
Give us a call today at 903-234-0711 to learn how we can help with your paternity dispute.