Dallas Paternity Action Attorneys
Helping You Pursue Paternity in Your Case
Filing a paternity action could either help an individual sue a father for child support or enable a father to receive paternal rights. Establishing paternity can help mothers receive the support they need to care for their child and ensure that fathers can build a lasting relationship with their child(ren).
At Verner Brumley Mueller Parker PC, our Dallas paternity action lawyers can help you progress your paternity case, representing you and defending your parental rights in and out of court.
How Paternity Affects Child Custody & Support
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.
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.
How is Paternity Established in TX?
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.
How Do Paternity Actions Work in Texas?
At the heart of every paternity case is determining the truth. Establishing paternity is extremely important in many aspects of family law. DNA testing has been proven to be more than 99% accurate in establishing or disproving parentage.
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.
During paternity actions, the party filing for paternity works with the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to establish paternity. There are two primary ways to establish paternity in Texas:
- Obtaining a court-ordered DNA test. The alleged father will take the DNA test to determine whether they are the child's father, after which they may be added to the child's birth certificate (and the other parent may request child support if they act as the child's sole custodial parent).
- Obtaining an acknowledgment of paternity (AOP). Non-married biological parents can use an AOP to voluntarily establish paternity. The parties engaged in a paternity action must work with AOP-certified entities (as recognized by the OAG) to use an AOP to resolve a paternity action.
The OAG can also help fathers who believe they are involved in a case of mistaken paternity terminate their parental rights, removing them from paternal child support obligations they may have.
Alternatively, mothers sometimes accuse fathers of mistaken paternity during child custody cases. This can prevent a father from being involved in day-to-day decision-making for a child's medical and educational needs and could prohibit custody rights. We have helped many fathers prove their biological relationship with their children through paternity actions and DNA testing.
At Verner Brumley Mueller Parker PC, our Dallas paternity action lawyers understand how to help clients navigate paternity actions. We help mothers and fathers with:
- Establishing parentage to obtain child support
- Defending oneself against unwarranted claims for child support
- Seeking to prove parentage to establish parental rights
Our understanding of the Uniform Parentage Act and other state and federal laws allows us to provide strong representation to discover a child's parents.