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How Is Paternity Established in Texas?

Divorce can force a period of change and accommodation, which is usually very difficult for any children affected by the divorce. Most couples are eager to end a fractious relationship and look forward to a better future, but children are often unsure of their own. In the best interests of the children, Texas courts usually award custody to one parent and order the other to pay child support.

The Attorney General of Texas provides assistance to parents seeking child support, which is essential for successfully raising a healthy and happy child. In Texas, like elsewhere in the country, parents are supposed to decide child custody issues and visitation without intervention.

However, if parents cannot come to an agreement, child custody issues will be decided by the Texas family court. Sometimes, a child’s paternity has not been clearly established. If this is the case, the Texas child support division administered by the Attorney General of Texas helps establish paternity so that child support obligations and visitation can be determined.

In Texas, if paternity needs to be established the parents can sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form, which is then filed with the Texas Vital Statistics office. If the mother or the presumed father is unsure of the child’s paternity, then it must be established by the court.

Texas law states that if both parents sign the acknowledgment form, then they are the legal parents. Once paternity is established, the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support. The parent who has child custody allows the non-custodial parent to visit the child unless otherwise stipulated. A child’s paternity may be established in Texas even if the child is not currently living in the state.

Establishing paternity is often a crucial factor in protecting the best interests of the child because paternity identification is closely linked with the child’s financial well-being. To ensure that a child is not deprived of what is needed to grow and thrive, a custodial parent will likely want to know all of the legal options to obtain support.

Source: The Attorney General of Texas, “Families and Parenting,” Accessed on April 6, 2015