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Understanding issues of paternity in Texas

For parents in Texas, the notion of paternity might seem like it simply refers to a child's father, but there is more to it than that. Understanding this can provide protections and rights to the father as well as paternity leave and shared parenting. Obviously, paternity refers to fatherhood. If, however, the couple is not married at the time of the child's birth, the male who is said to be the father is not automatically viewed as such.

Paternity must be established. This is done by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity or be acquiring a court order. Parents who are married will automatically leave the husband as the presumed father and he will have the rights that the mother has. Paternity is important because it has the father's name on the birth certificate, it protects the father's legal connection to the child, and it gives the father the right to provide care for the child.

The mother also derives benefits from established paternity. The father will be legally responsible for the child. It is needed for there to be a request for custody, support or visitation rights. It can assist with the child being able to receive an inheritance, medical insurance, Social Security, and benefits for dependents if the father is a veteran. The child benefits from paternity acknowledgement. Knowing who the father is, establishing a legal and emotional bond, giving a sense of identity, giving both parent access to school and medical records, and the right to see both parents are all significant in a child's upbringing.

With paternity issues, the first step is to establish who the father is and who isn't the father. It is a common dispute that some parents either are not aware that they are or aren't the father of a child or refuse to acknowledge their responsibilities. When there is a dispute over father's rights, having help from an experienced legal professional can be important to dealing with the case regardless of the circumstances.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Handbook For Noncustodial Parents -- How to establish paternity -- pages 8-10," accessed on Jan. 7, 2016

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