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Establishing paternity in Texas, part 1

Paternity can be both a blessing and curse. It's a blessing because it grants legitimate fathers the right to care for and raise their child. It is also a curse because it can mean that non-biological fathers are forced to assume parental and financial responsibility for a child that is not theirs. This article will address the manner in which paternity is established in Texas.

There are three ways to establish paternity:

  • The law automatically presumes it.
  • The father voluntarily acknowledges paternity.
  • By court order.

This article will address the first method, presumption.

The basic rule is that if you and the mother are married when the child is born, then the law presumes that you are the father. The law may also presume you are the father if you were married to the mother within 300 days before the child born. So a quick divorce before the birth is insufficient to avoid this presumption. Or, assuming you never married the mother, if you lived with the child continuously for two years after his or her birth, then the law may also presume you are the father. Finally, you may also automatically gain rights if you voluntarily claim paternity over the child on the birth certificate.

What happens if you are the presumed but not biological father? You can avoid paternal responsibility if you sign a Denial of Paternity form and the true genetic father and mother sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. Barring that, you may also avoid this presumption if you secure a court order relinquishing you of duties.

If you believe that the child is not yours and you wish to be relieved of paternal responsibilities, then you may want to speak to a lawyer. Avoiding paternity and child support obligations is possible if you were married to the mother, as discussed above, but it will take some extra legwork. An attorney can chart a legal strategy and help you fill out the necessary forms and paperwork to get this action going.

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