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Paternity

Paternity Attorneys in Denton County, Collin County, & Tarrant County

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Whether you are a parent facing a custody battle over your children or have a paternity dispute relating to child support, our team can be your legal advocate. At Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, we have more than 110 years of combined experience that we will put to work for you. We offer financing to help with retainer fees. Click here to see your options.

Determining Paternity in Texas

The first step to protecting your rights and enforcing responsibilities as a father is to establish that the child is actually yours. As all parents are legally responsible for the well-being of their children, once paternity has been established, child support may be required and enforced.

There are many ways to determine paternity, but the following three methods are typically the most common:

  • Legally, the man married to a woman at the time of childbirth is considered to be the father of that child
  • An unwed man can voluntarily proclaim paternity of the child
  • The mother or government can file a petition to have paternity tested
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We have helped families just like yours through all types of divorce and family law-related matters. Find out how one of our Board-Certified Family Law Specialists can help you.

Establishing Paternity in Texas

In Texas, if you want to establish paternity through a court-ordered DNA test, you typically need to follow a legal process. Here are the general steps involved:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Before you file a paternity petition, you need to make sure you are eligible to do so. In Texas, this generally means you are the mother, alleged father, or a governmental agency, such as the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
  2. Gather Information: You will need to gather information about the child, the alleged father, and any relevant documents, such as birth certificates and any existing court orders.
  3. File a Paternity Petition: To initiate the legal process, you will need to file a paternity petition with the appropriate court. In Texas, this is usually done in a family law or child support court. The petition should include information about the child, the alleged father, and your reasons for seeking paternity testing. You can obtain the necessary forms from the court or the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
  4. Serve Notice: Once the petition is filed, the court will typically require you to serve notice to the alleged father. This involves delivering copies of the petition and a summons, which informs the alleged father about the legal action and the need for a DNA test. Service can be done by a process server or another approved method, and you will need to provide proof of service to the court.
  5. Response from Alleged Father: The alleged father will have the opportunity to respond to the paternity petition. They can either admit or deny paternity. If they admit paternity, the court may issue an order based on their admission. If they deny paternity, the case will proceed to the next step.
  6. Court Hearing: If paternity is disputed, the court will schedule a hearing. At the hearing, both parties can present their evidence and arguments. The court may order genetic testing at this point.
  7. Genetic Testing: If ordered by the court, genetic testing will be conducted. The alleged father, mother, and child will be required to provide DNA samples. The results of the test will be used to determine paternity.
  8. Paternity Order: If the genetic test confirms paternity, the court will issue a paternity order, which legally establishes the alleged father as the child's legal parent. This order can also address child support, custody, and visitation issues.
  9. Compliance and Enforcement: Both parties are obligated to comply with the court order. If the alleged father fails to comply, child support enforcement measures may be taken.
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The Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity in Texas offers various benefits for both the child and the parents involved. Here is a list of some of the key advantages:

  • Legal Rights and Responsibilities:
    • Child's Rights: Once paternity is established, the child gains access to certain legal rights and benefits, including inheritance rights, the right to receive financial support, and access to medical and insurance benefits from both parents.
    • Parental Rights: The father gains legal rights to custody, visitation, and participation in decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
  • Financial Support:
    • Child Support: Paternity establishment is a crucial step in ensuring that the child receives financial support from both parents. The non-custodial parent is typically required to provide child support.
  • Healthcare Benefits:
    • Medical Insurance: The child may become eligible for medical insurance benefits through either or both parents' policies, helping cover medical expenses.
    • Access to Medical History: Establishing paternity allows the child to access their complete medical history, which can be important for medical treatments and understanding potential hereditary health issues.
  • Inheritance Rights:
    • Inheritance Laws: A legally recognized child has the right to inherit from both parents, including property and assets, under Texas inheritance laws.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Benefits:
    • U.S. Citizenship: If the father is a U.S. citizen, establishing paternity may be a prerequisite for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
    • Immigration Benefits: Paternity establishment may be necessary for immigration purposes, such as sponsoring the child for a visa or residency.
  • Government Assistance Benefits:
    • Social Security Benefits: In the event of the father's disability or death, the child may be eligible for Social Security benefits based on the father's work history.
    • Veterans Benefits: If the father is a veteran, the child may be eligible for certain veterans' benefits.
  • Legal Documentation:
    • Birth Certificate Amendment: The child's birth certificate can be updated to include the father's name, providing official proof of paternity.
    • Court Orders: Paternity establishment often leads to court orders that detail child support, custody, and visitation arrangements, providing a legal framework for co-parenting.
  • Protection Against Child Abandonment:
    • Legal Obligation: Establishing paternity can hold the father legally responsible for the child's well-being, reducing the risk of child abandonment.
  • Parental Access and Involvement:
    • Custody and Visitation: Paternity establishment helps determine custody and visitation arrangements, ensuring that both parents have the opportunity to be involved in the child's life.
  • Emotional and Psychological Benefits:
    • Emotional Well-being: Knowing both parents and having their support can contribute to a child's emotional and psychological well-being, providing a sense of identity and belonging.
    • Relationship Building: It can help build and strengthen the child's relationship with both parents, which is often beneficial for their emotional development.

Why Choose Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers?

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Fight for Custody of Your Children

The law has come a long way when it comes to considering the rights of both parents, where it once highly favored the mother. As a father, you do have rights to your children that should be protected and upheld when determining custody arrangements. Presently, a judge’s primary concern is the best interests of the child. Typically, in order to deny a father’s custody rights, a mother would have to prove that his behavior, lifestyle, or living situation threatens the emotional, financial, or physical well-being of his child.

Start With a Phone Call: (940) 293-2313

Take the first step toward establishing your rights and give our board-certified Denton, Collin, and Tarrant County family law attorneys a call. We will sit down with you to discuss your options in an initial consultation and help you determine your rights and take legal action to enforce them.

Contact us today. We promptly return all phone calls and offer video consultations for your convenience. Call (940) 293-2313!

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