Establishing Paternity

I Want to Establish Paternity: What It Means to Be the Father

You have recently fathered a child; however, you are not on the birth certificate and you did not sign an acknowledgment of paternity because you were not “allowed” to be a part of the process by the mother. You want to be a part of the child’s life and ensure that he/she knows you are their father. You have tried reaching out to the mother, but she keeps ignoring you and telling you to stay away. You call a family law attorney because you do not know what to do from this point.

In this type of scenario, you want to ensure that you are established the legal father of the child. This ensures that you have the parental rights that an established father has under the family code, including receiving important medical and school information. Therefore, your attorney would file a suit to establish the parentage. Within that request, your attorney will ask that the court order genetic testing so that you can in fact scientifically establish your paternity. Once granted, the court will order the mother to take the child to the testing facility on a date and time certain and you must go undergo the testing as well. The results will be submitted to all attorneys as well as to the court. If you are in fact the father, the test results will come back at over 99% accurate.

Another option to establish your paternity is if both parties are willing to waive genetic testing and sign an acknowledgment of paternity. Some cases go this route because neither party has a doubt that the man filing is in fact the father and they do not want to undergo the genetic testing. It is not a bad thing to avoid genetic testing, it just makes absolutely certain but some parties do not want to exercise this right.

Once your paternity has been established through either genetic testing or both parties signing an acknowledgment of paternity, the court will move forward with setting up visitation, child support and health insurance provisions. The court must have paternity established before these next steps can be taken.

At the very least (if no emergency or extenuating circumstances exist), the court has the authority under the family code to establish standard visitation. This is every Thursday from 6-8 p.m., 1, 3, and 5th weekends of the month beginning on Fridays at 6:00 p.m. and ending on Sundays at 6:00 p.m., alternating holidays and spring breaks, and summer visitation. Also, the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support based upon your monthly net resources. If it is only one child, the court will calculate support at 20% of the monthly net resources. As for health insurance, if the child is on government assistance, the noncustodial parent could be ordered to pay up to 9% of their gross monthly resources in cash medical support; or, if the custodial parent is covering health insurance, the noncustodial parent could be ordered to reimburse the custodial parent for the cost of the premium; or finally, the noncustodial parent could be ordered to enroll the child on his available health insurance plan. This is just a basic synopsis of a typical scenario.

If you have a child that you have been denied access to and you want to ensure you have the legal rights the Texas legislature guarantees to a father, contact a family law attorney at Guest and Gray Law Firm today.