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How do I establish paternity in Texas?

It is becoming more commonplace to see unwed mothers and fathers of children. If you are an unmarried father, you do have the right to be in your child's life. However, it may take some extra work to secure unmarried fathers' rights because your name may not be on the birth certificate. The Texas attorney general has listed some resources for those seeking paternity.

The first step in the process is for both parents to sign an AOP or Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Once this has been signed and filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit, it represents a legal finding of paternity. The unmarried father then is officially the legal father and has all legal rights to parenthood. However, an AOP is not an appropriate means of action for all paternity claims.

For example, if the mother and father do not both agree about the identity of the father is, the party or parties must seek paternity through a court order. The AOP is not an appropriate means because this is for parents who agree on the paternity and where violence is not an issue. Through this process, the father may need to consent to a DNA test that will conclude whether or not he is the biological father of the child in question.

Some unmarried parents do not agree when it comes to establishing paternity of a child. This may be due to several reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the child in question. Paternity is a serious and rewarding responsibility, which should not be taken lightly by either parent. When necessary, a court order will establish paternity of the child in question. From there will come a custody arrangement that will hopefully equally benefit both parents and the child.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Paternity Establishment," Accessed Jan. 26, 2015

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