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Ways to establish paternity in Texas

The most basic aspects of the law can sometimes be the most complicated and confusing. Such is the case with the establishment of paternity in Texas. It is important to establish paternity for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which the best interests of the child, and the parents knowing who the biological father is. It is also important for providing support to the child and with any other aspect of the child's growth.

There are two ways to establish paternity. First, is the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). This lets parents who are not married establish the child's paternity. When the biological parents sign the AOP and file it with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit (VSU), it means that these are the legal parents of the child. The father will subsequently have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent. That includes his name being put on the birth certificate.

The AOP must be completed prior to an order for child support or paternity determination. If the father is not able to be at the hospital when the child is born, the AOP can be completed at a state attorney general's child support office, the birth registrar's office or another entity that has been certified by the AOP. It is free to complete an AOP.

Some cases cannot be settled with an AOP. If, for example, it is not fully known who the biological father is, or if there is an issue with abuse, an AOP may not be appropriate. It is possible to establish paternity by using a court order. There are several ways to do this, including opening a child support case with the Office of the Attorney General or by contacting a lawyer.

With the importance of paternity, parents need to make certain that they take the necessary steps to legally establish the biological father as soon as possible. For help with a case or to settle disputes, a lawyer with extensive experience in fathers' rights cases might be an important consideration.

Source: texasattorneygeneral.gov, "Ways to Establish Paternity," accessed on April 3, 2017

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