According to recent demographic research data, one in four parents living with a child is unmarried. In the changing landscape of parentage and family dynamics, being informed about how the parent-child relationship is formed under Texas law is more important than ever, especially for unmarried fathers.
Today, we're exploring how individuals can establish paternity in Texas, as well as other facets of parent-child relationships when parents are unmarried.
How Is Paternity Established in Texas?
There are a few key points to keep in mind regarding how paternity is established under the Texas Family Code. First, there are five ways in which a father-child relationship can be established:
- An unrebutted presumption of the man's paternity.
- An acknowledgment of paternity.
- An adjudication of paternity.
- The man consents to assisted reproduction by his wife resulting in the birth of the child.
What does it take to be considered a "presumed father," and how can that presumption be rebutted? A man is presumed to be the father of a child if any of the following conditions are met:
- He is married to the mother of the child, and the child is born during the marriage.
- He is married to the child's mother, 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, 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 the law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, the assertion is in a record filed with the bureau of vital statistics, 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.
- During the first two years of the child's life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child lived, and he represented to others that the child was his own.
If a presumption of paternity is found, it may only be rebutted by:
- A proceeding to adjudicate paternity or
- The filing of a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father in conjunction with another person's filing of a valid acknowledgment of paternity.
What Makes an Acknowledgment of Paternity Valid?
Texas law provides that the mother of a child and a man claiming to be the child's biological father may sign a declaration of paternity with the intent to establish the man's paternity. However, mom and dad both need to be aware of the rules surrounding these acknowledgments. Four rules govern the validity of acknowledgments of paternity:
- An acknowledgment of paternity and a denial of paternity may be contained in a single or different documents. It may be filed separately or simultaneously—if the acknowledgment and denial are both necessary, neither document is valid until both documents are filed.
- An acknowledgment of paternity or a denial of paternity may be signed before the birth of the child.
- Subject to the first rule, an acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity takes effect on the date of birth of the child or the document's filing with the bureau of vital statistics, whichever occurs later.
- An acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity signed by a minor is valid if it otherwise complies with these statutory provisions.
At Hance Law Group, we help Texans successfully navigate paternity cases and other kinds of parentage disputes.