Texas Paternity

In Texas, fathers generally have a right to access and visit their children. Even if they have never had custody of their children. Fathers also have an financial obligation to provide support for their children. The Texas Family Code requires establishing paternity to impose financial obligations on the father. The Texas Family Code imposes the same child support obligations as in a divorce or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship.

Proving paternity in Dallas and Fort Worth with a DNA test

The most common way to prove paternity is through a DNA test. A paternity suit is a legal process in the family courts that uses DNA test results to determine paternity. The results of the DNA test are conclusive evidence of paternity unless a second test contradicts the first. DNA tests are the most effective way to legally establish paternity because it relies on scientific data.

If the alleged father will not submit to the DNA test, the court can order relatives to submit to testing.  DNA testing can match through relatives. If no relatives are available the court can impose sanctions on the alleged father to encourage submitting to the test. It is rare when the family court cannot reach a conclusion on paternity through a DNA test. Often these suits require Fort Worth contested divorce lawyers to represent both sides of the dispute.

Other ways family law lawyers establish paternity under the Texas Family Code in Dallas and Tarrant County

In addition to paternity tests, the Texas Family Code sets out several other methods in which paternity can be either voluntarily or even involuntarily accepted by the father as a method of establishing the father-child relationship as a matter of law. You do not have to go to court to establish paternity although for child support to be enforced against you or for you to enforce your legal rights to access your child a lawsuit must be filed. If you have already voluntarily acknowledged paternity of a child outside of a paternity suit it will be very difficult to avoid paying child support even if you are not the biological father. For that reason, you should be cautious about voluntarily accepting paternity of a child that may not be yours until a DNA test can confirm you are the biological father.

Purposes of establishing paternity in Dallas and Fort Worth with a divorce lawyer

Legal recognition of paternity prevents the mother or other people, such as grandparents, from preventing the father from protecting his rights to form a relationship with his children unless the father’s presence in the child’s life would not be in the best interest of the child (such as if the father is abusing the child). Paternity suits are not about making the father pay for a child he will never see.Paternity suits are not only about making the father pay child support. Paternity suits also protect the father’s rights to have a relationship with his children and act as a father. By establishing paternity the father will also have his rights to visitation and potentially even shared possession and decision making over the child.

Child support obligations after establishing paternity

After proving paternity, some fathers make the decision not to be a part of the child’s life. The father is not required to visit or communicate with child. However, the father cannot refuse to pay child support in exchange for not visiting or communicating with the child. It is not an all or nothing arrangement. The child support obligation will be enforced by the family courts even if the father decides not to have any relationship with the child. If the father does not pay ordered child support then the other parent can enforce the child support obligation.

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