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Overview of the paternity process in Texas


Unmarried men in the Killeen and Fort Hood areas may find that they are going to be the biological father of a child.

Whether this was expected or comes as a surprise, it is important for these new dads to remember that they have to take additional legal steps if they want to have a right to build a relationship with their child. Otherwise, the rights that they have to see their child are solely at the discretion of the child’s mother, as she is the only parent with legal standing in Texas, at least at the moment of the child’s birth.

In order to be recognized legally as the father of a child, an unmarried man has to establish paternity by one of two ways. So long as everyone agrees that he is indeed the father, the man may sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. A word of caution is in order here, however, because this form can be difficult to set aside at a later date.

Without an Acknowledgement of Paternity, either the mother or the father will have to ask for a court order establishing paternity, and this will generally involve at least one trip to the courthouse as well as submission to genetic testing.

Once paternity is established, a dad must remember that he does not thereby automatically have the right to custody or visitation, which may be referred to as “conservatorship” and “possession” in Texas court documents. A dad’s right to see his child must be established via court order, unless of course the mom and the dad can agree on and jointly file a custody and visitation plan. Dads should also remember that, as the legal father of the child, they will be expected to pay child support as ordered by the court.

Establishing paternity and resolving related custody and support matters is not always a straightforward process. A Killeen man who wants to establish paternity is well-advised to first speak with an experienced family law attorney about the process.