When a married woman gives birth in Texas, her husband is recognized as the child’s father. When a woman who isn’t married has a baby, the father does not have legal parental rights until his paternity is established. 

For fathers, establishing paternity means their name can be listed on the child’s birth certificate. Beyond that, they have legal rights to care for the child; to go to court to seek custody, child support and parenting time; and to have access to the youngster’s medical and school records.

For mothers, establishing paternity gives the child a legal right to their father; makes the father legally responsible; allows the child to be eligible for benefits earned by the father, such as Social Security; and is required before seeking child support.

Just how is paternity established in Texas? In one of three ways.

  1. Voluntary paternity: Both parents sign an acknowledgment of paternity form, which is available at the hospital at the time the baby is born. This establishes a legal father for the child/
  2. Agreed paternity order: Both parents, and then a judge, sign a form stating who the father is. At that time, parents must agree to legal rights concerning child custody, visitation, medical support and child support. 
  3. Court-ordered paternity: A court order settles the paternity issue when parents don’t agree on who the father is.

It’s in the best interest of children to know their father and his relatives. Establishing a legal bond also establishes an emotional connection to extended family. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with the needed documentation or guide you through the process of establishing paternity.