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Paternity

The term paternity refers in law to the legal relationship between a father and his biological child or children. While there are usually not any questions relating to maternity (motherhood) for most children, paternity can occasionally be a complicated issue to resolve.

While paternity is presumed when a married couple has a child, the same is not true for unmarried parents. It can be important to establish paternity so a child can be entitled to certain benefits as a legal beneficiary to the father. If in doubt, paternity may be challenged even when a child is born during marriage.

Lawyer for Paternity in Houston, TX

If you need assistance establishing paternity in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to first seek legal representation. Sydow Law Firm assists clients with family law issues in Houston and other nearby areas in Fort Bend County and Harris County.

Michael Sydow is an experienced family law attorney in Houston who is dedicated to his clients. He can review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (713) 622-9700 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Harris County Paternity Information Center

Voluntary Establishment of Paternity in Texas

Under Texas Family Code § 160.201(a), a mother-child relationship is established between a woman and a child by the woman giving birth to the child, an adjudication of the woman’s maternity, or the adoption of the child by the woman. Texas Family Code § 160.201(b) states that a father-child relationship is established between a man and a child by:

  • an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Texas Family Code § 160.204;
  • an effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under Subchapter D, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged;
  • an adjudication of the man’s paternity;
  • the adoption of the child by the man; or
  • the man’s consenting to assisted reproduction by his wife under Subchapter H, which resulted in the birth of the child.

The unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Texas Family Code § 160.204 refers to a man being presumed to be the father of a child when:

  • he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage;
  • he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
  • he married the mother of the child before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date 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 in apparent compliance with law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and the assertion is in a record filed with the vital statistics unit, he is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or he promised in a record to support the child as his own; 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.

The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child can also establish the man’s paternity under Texas Family Code § 160.301 by signing an acknowledgment of paternity. In order to execute an acknowledgment of paternity, Texas Family Code § 160.302 states that the acknowledgment of paternity must:

  • be in a record;
  • be signed, or otherwise authenticated, under penalty of perjury by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity;
  • state that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged does not have a presumed father or has a presumed father whose full name is stated and does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated father;
  • state whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the acknowledging man’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the testing; and
  • state that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of the paternity of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances.

Under Texas Family Code § 160.305, a valid acknowledgment of paternity filed with the vital statistics unit is the equivalent of an adjudication of the paternity of a child and confers on the acknowledged father all rights and duties of a parent.

Involuntary Establishment of Paternity in Harris County

Not all paternity cases are clear-cut. In some cases, a man may dispute that he is the father of a child or children and a court will have to issue an order adjudicating paternity.

Texas Family Code § 160.102(8) defines the phrase genetic testing as meaning “an analysis of an individual’s genetic markers to exclude or identify a man as the father of a child or a woman as the mother of a child.” Genetic testing includes an analysis of one or more of the following:

  • deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); and
  • blood-group antigens, red-cell antigens, human-leukocyte antigens, serum enzymes, serum proteins, or red-cell enzymes.

When a party to a proceeding requests genetic testing to determine parentage, the court can order the child and other designated individuals to submit to such testing. Under Texas Family Code § 160.505(a), a man is rebuttably identified as the father of a child if the genetic testing results disclose:

  • that the man has at least a 99 percent probability of paternity, using a prior probability of 0.5, as calculated by using the combined paternity index obtained in the testing; and
  • a combined paternity index of at least 100 to 1.

Texas Family Code § 160.505(b) establishes that a man identified as the father of a child can rebut the genetic testing results only by producing other approved genetic testing that:

  • excludes the man as a genetic father of the child; or
  • identifies another man as the possible father of the child.

When more than one man is identified by genetic testing as the possible father of the child, Texas Family Code § 160.505(c) states that the court must order each man to submit to further genetic testing to identify the genetic father.

Texas Paternity Resources

Child Support | Establishing Paternity | Texas Attorney General — Visit this section of the Texas Attorney General’s website to learn more about establishing paternity in the Lone Star State. View videos of personal testimonials in which parents discuss the Acknowledgment of Paternity process and why establishing paternity was the right thing to do for them and for their children. The website also covers ways to establish paternity.

Texas Family Code | Chapter 160. Uniform Parentage Act — View the full text of many Texas state laws relating to paternity. You can view the statutes covering presumption of paternity, acknowledgement of paternity, and denial of paternity. Subchapter E is dedicated to registry of paternity issues such as notice for proceeding, required forms, and fees for registry.

Find a Paternity Attorney in Houston, TX

Do you need help establishing paternity in Southeast Texas? You will want to contact Sydow Law Firm as soon as possible.

Houston lawyer Michael Sydow represents individuals in communities throughout Harris County and Fort Bend County. Call (713) 622-9700 or complete an online contact form to have our attorney provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, no obligation consultation.

Sydow Law Firm