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Can I Establish Paternity in Texas if I Have a Criminal Record?

 Posted on April 10, 2024 in Child Custody

Propert, TX paternity lawyersWhen a married woman gives birth in Texas, state law automatically assumes her husband is the father. If the parents are unmarried, however, the father may need to establish paternity. This means that the father will not have rights and responsibilities to the child until his fatherhood is recognized by the state.

In general, Texas law does not make paternity conditional on the father’s past or conduct. Paternity is a matter of biological fact. Therefore, if a father has a criminal record, it is not likely to prevent a father from establishing paternity. Still, it is always best to consult a qualified family lawyer if you have questions about establishing paternity in Texas. 

Why Establish Paternity?

Registering yourself as the child’s father has many impacts on the life of the child, the child’s mother, and yourself. These include:

  • Giving you rights to custody and parenting time

  • Giving the child a right to inheritance and/or death benefits when you pass away

  • Allowing the child access to your medical history

  • Allowing you to petition for child support, health coverage, and other benefits

  • Securing a legal relationship between you and your child

Keep in mind that once you are established as the child’s father, you will also have certain responsibilities. You can, for example, be liable to pay child support if necessary.

Do I Need to Establish Paternity?

Some fathers do not need to establish paternity. Under Texas law, there are three cases in which the state automatically recognizes fatherhood:

  • If the father and mother are married at the time of birth

  • If the father and mother are divorced, but the marriage ended within 300 days of the birth

  • If the father lived with the child and represented himself as the child’s father for the first two years of the child’s life

How Can I Establish Paternity?

There are two main ways to establish paternity in Texas without being married to the child’s mother. The first way is for both parents to sign a form called an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP). This is submitted to the Office of the Attorney General and says that both parents agree you are the father of the child.

The second way, which is a more difficult process, is to get a court order recognizing you as the father. This is usually done in cases where the mother refuses to sign an AOP or contests the father’s paternity. Sometimes the mother will pursue a court order if the father denies his fatherhood or refuses to pay child support.

Once a petition is filed, a court may require a DNA test to prove the father’s paternity. 

Contact a Denton County, TX Paternity Lawyer

If you have any questions about establishing paternity or you want to obtain a court order recognizing your fatherhood, consult with a Prosper, Texas family law attorney who is experienced in establishing paternity. John Pfister is one of a handful of Texas attorneys who is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has over 20 years of experience and is ready to answer questions about establishing paternity. Call Pfister Family Law at 972-954-6455 today.

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