Establishing Paternity Resolves an Array of Issues
In accordance with Texas law, husbands are presumed to be the biological fathers of any children born within a marriage. When children are born out of wedlock, however, mothers often go through a legal process to confirm paternity, which helps ensure that biological fathers contribute financially to their offspring.
In fact, pursuit of monetary contributions is only one reason for establishing paternity. The process can provide significant benefits to mothers, fathers and children.
Reasons for Establishing Paternity
Every child born into this world has two genetic parents. However, without a legal process that establishes paternity outside of marriage, anyone in this three-person relationship can lose out on some life-changing benefits, such as the following:
- Active participation in a child's life: Biological fathers generally have rights that are similar to those afforded to divorced fathers. They can pursue visitation rights and they can seek legal and even physical custody rights. In the event that a mother wants to give up a baby for adoption, the decision requires approval from the biological father, who can potentially take full custody.
- Long-term benefits to children: Biological children have rights to many benefits, including Social Security, veteran's benefits and inheritance.
- Complete medical histories: Establishing a paternal connection can help children to become aware of possible inherited medical issues. The information can be equally important in the event that fathers or children need organ donations from a compatible donor.
- Formalizing paternity after assisted reproduction within marriage: Marriage does not automatically establish paternity of children who were created from some form of assisted reproduction. In these cases, husbands become legal fathers only after they provide written consent.
Establishing paternity can be as simple as signing some forms, or it may require genetic testing and judicial intervention. Even when fathers do not want an active role in their children's lives, however, they still have certain legal obligations under the law. The bottom line is that one of the parties within the genetic relationship can generally benefit by making it legal.
Texas Law Attempts to Address Every Possibility When Determining Legal Paternity
As medical science continues to progress, the possible means of conception continue to increase. Women can become pregnant through intrauterine insemination, but they can also obtain an egg or embryo donation, and other conception methods are also available. This is why the Texas Uniform Parentage Act sets forth detailed rules for the acknowledgement and denial of paternity — even for children born within a marriage.
The law is not necessarily intuitive in this regard. For example, it is logical to assume that a husband is the legal father of a child conceived from his donated sperm. In fact, the father must consent to paternity in these cases. If he dies before giving consent, his genetic children can lose out on important benefits.
This is one of many reasons why it is important for prospective parents to seek advice from a Dallas family law attorney who has a thorough understanding of Texas’ paternity laws. When you know your rights and those of your children upfront, you can go through any testing or other legal processes to help preserve those rights. Contact us to gain a valuable education and obtain the legal support you need.