If parental rights, including custody, support, and visitation are at issue, a paternity determination is often necessary. Paternity may be disputed because of extramarital affairs, or other situations in which more than one man could be the father. Once a paternity determination is made, financial obligations will then attach to the father. The child custody attorneys at Patrick D. West Law Firm can help you obtain a paternity determination. If a woman needs to establish paternity to prove that a man is required to pay his fair share of child support or to enforce the continuing payments of child support, a paternity determination will help accomplish these objectives. A paternity determination can help the father as well. For example, a father may suspect that a child is his own, but needs a paternity determination to convince the mother that he is entitled to have custody or visitation with the child. Our experienced family law attorneys can help obtain paternity determinations, whether to assist the interests of the mother, father or both.
The Legal Implications of a Paternity Determination
Once a paternity determination is made, the father may then be required to pay child support and arrange for the child to have health insurance, and possibly other benefits. The father then potentially has other rights, such as custody and visitation. These rights may be established when the child is first born, or possibly years later.
There are several ways in which a paternity determination may be made. First, a man may simply concede to the fact that he is a child’s father. In this method, the parents will both sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This may occur either at the hospital where the child is born. The parents may also contact the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics to complete the form. The parents should make every effort to make sure they are signing the form truthfully and accurately because an acknowledgment of paternity can be very difficult to withdraw once it is made.
Next, a man may be presumed to be a child’s father. This is the case when a child is born within a marriage. The presumption also applies if a child is born within 300 days after the end of a marriage, or if a man marries the mother after a child’s birth, claiming paternity and agreeing to provide support to the child. Additionally, the presumption can apply if a man lives with a child for his or her first two years of life, and additionally claims the child as his own to others. Unless a court rules against paternity, or the man disavows paternity in writing, or another man signs an acknowledgment of paternity, the presumed father will be deemed to be the actual father.
Lastly, a court may issue a paternity ruling. This may occur if one or both parties request it. For example, the mother may believe that a man is the father but he may deny it and refuse to voluntarily submit to genetic testing. The court can order the alleged father to be tested. The child in question may also initiate a paternity proceeding in court. If the alleged father fails to submit to genetic testing or otherwise fails to comply with the court orders, the court, among other things, may issue a paternity ruling by default. In a paternity proceeding, the alleged father may also be the one to request a ruling on genetic testing.
Contact the Paternity Attorneys at Patrick D. West Law Firm
As you can see, there can be many complicated aspects to paternity law, and it is best to have the experienced Family Law attorneys with Patrick D. West Law Firm at your side through this process. Call us at (817) 332-2600 or contact us via our online form to set up an appointment if you need assistance with a paternity matter or assistance with another type of family law matter.