Maternity, or the relationship between a mother and her biological child, is typically straightforward and undisputed, but questions and issues can arise in certain situations relating to paternity or fatherhood. Paternity is automatically established when a married couple has a child in Texas, but that presumption does not apply to unmarried parents.
Unmarried parents can typically resolve paternity issues by filing acknowledgments of paternity. In other cases, paternity may need to be established involuntarily through adjudicatory measures. If you need to establish paternity in Harris County, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation. Contact The Gonzalez Law Group as soon as possible. You can have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (832) 530-4070 to receive a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Paternity in Texas
- Voluntary Establishment of Paternity in Texas
- Involuntary Establishment of Paternity in Texas
- Harris County Paternity Resources
Voluntary Establishment of Paternity in Texas
In Texas, establishing a mother-child relationship is relatively easy. Texas establishes that 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.
Establishing a father-child relationship can be much more complicated. Often, who is legally considered the father can be unclear. Texas has established certain rules that apply to resolve this uncertainty. First, let’s look at what scenarios establish a father-child relationship in Texas.
- An effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under Subchapter D, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged;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, which resulted in the birth of the child.
- An unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Texas Family Code § 160.204;
Often if it is unclear who the father is, Texas will make a presumption of who the father is based on a couple of tests. Texas Family Code § 160.204 states that a man is presumed to be the father of a child in the following scenarios:
- 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.
Under Texas Family Code § 160.301, the mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity needs to satisfy certain requirements established under Texas Family Code § 160.302, but 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 Texas
A court may have to issue an order adjudicating paternity when a man denies paternity or claims he is not the father of a child or children. In such cases, genetic testing (defined under Texas Family Code § 160.102(8) as “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,” which 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) may be requested to determine parentage, and the court can order the child and other designated individuals to submit to such testing.
In the State of Texas, 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.
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. In a scenario where there exists another possible father, the court is required to order each man to submit to further genetic testing to identify the genetic father when more than one man is identified by genetic testing as the possible father of the child.
Harris County Paternity Resources
Texas Family Code | Chapter 160. Uniform Parentage Act — The short title of Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code is the Uniform Parentage Act, and the chapter contains numerous provisions relating to state law concerning paternity, genetic testing, and proceedings to adjudicate parentage. You can learn more about parent-child relationships, children of assisted reproduction, and gestational agreements. Also view statutes relating to required forms, rescission of registration, and fees for the registry.
Child Support | Establishing Paternity | Texas Attorney General — On this section of the Texas Attorney General’s website, you can find information about paternity establishment. The website discusses ways to establish paternity in Texas. You can also view videos of personal testimonials from parents discussing the Acknowledgment of Paternity process.
Contact a Paternity Lawyer in Houston, TX
Are you trying to establish paternity or being asked to submit to genetic testing to determine paternity in Southeast Texas? You should contact The Gonzalez Law Group for help understanding your rights and what can be required of you.
Our Houston family law attorneys assist individuals in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown, and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or complete an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation.