Paternity Rights and Obligations: What Every Texas Father Needs to Know

February 14, 2019 Posted in Child Support, Paternity

Paternal rights and obligations in the Lone Star State are a matter of Texas law. And understanding those rights and obligations goes a long way in determining issues like whether or not you are on the hook for child support or whether you must provide consent before your son or daughter can be adopted.

While any questions you have about paternity status in your own situation should be directed to a Dallas family law attorney, the following is a useful overview of what makes a man a father under Texas law.

What is a Presumed Father?

While there are numerous scenarios that establish paternity under the Texas Family Code , generally speaking, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • He is married to the child’s mother at the time the child is born,
  • He is married to the mother and the child is born before the 301st day after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce,
  • He married the mother of the child after the birth of the child and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, or
  • During the first two years of the child's life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to others that the child was his own.

Unless the status is rebutted or confirmed in a paternity lawsuit, a presumed father is legally recognized as the father of the child at issue, whether he wants to be or not. And he is entitled to notification of any lawsuits that could affect his parental rights.

What is an Alleged Father?

An alleged father is one who had a child outside of marriage. He has no legal rights of paternity unless and until those rights are legally established by an affirmative act: some legal form of acknowledgement of paternity or a lawsuit proving he is the father.

An alleged father may not be entitled to any kind of notice of a lawsuit that could affect his parental rights unless he has protected his rights by filing a Notice of Intent Claim Paternity form with the Texas paternity registry. By filing the Notice, he asserts his belief that he is the father of the child and wishes to preserve his rights as a parent. The form must be filed before or within 31 days of the child’s birth date.

Reasons to Speak With a Dallas Family Law Attorney When Paternity is In Question

A man who wants to establish paternity has a limited time to do so if there is a man who has been presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated the child’s father. In most cases, unless you bring a lawsuit to establish paternity prior to the child’s fourth birthday, you could be prevented from doing so at a later time, effectively cutting off your paternal rights.

Conversely, a presumed dad may want to show that he is not the father for a variety of reasons, including the desire to be released from paying child support. Unless the presumed father takes the necessary steps to show that he is not the father, he remains obligated to pay child support. 

Contact Michael P. Granata for Help in Determining Paternity

If you need help either establishing paternity or refuting an allegation that you are a child’s father, please call Dallas family law attorney Michael P. Granata at 214-977-9050 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment.