Establishing Paternity in Texas


Establishing paternity in Texas is a significant step for both parents and children. This process ensures that fathers have legal rights and responsibilities towards their children, while children gain access to essential benefits and support. In this article, we will explore why establishing paternity is crucial, the benefits it provides to parents and children, and the various methods of establishing paternity in Texas.

Why Establish Paternity in Texas?

Benefits to Parents

When parents establish paternity in Texas, they secure numerous rights and advantages for themselves and their children. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Making Medical Decisions: The father gains the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the child, ensuring their well-being and healthcare needs are met.
  2. Claiming as a Dependent: With paternity established, the father can claim the child as a dependent on his taxes, providing financial benefits.
  3. Financial Support: If the child’s mother requires financial support, proof of paternity strengthens her case for obtaining child support from the father, especially in disputed cases.
  4. Visitation Rights: Once paternity is established, a father can legally visit his child, even if there are disagreements with the mother over custody rights.

Benefits to Children

Establishing paternity in Texas has a profound positive impact on the lives of children, ensuring they have:

  1. Emotional Security: Knowing both parents and having legal recognition from them creates emotional security for the child.
  2. Financial Support: Children have access to financial support from both parents, promoting their well-being and development.
  3. Health Benefits: Paternity entitles children to certain health benefits, including insurance coverage and access to family medical history records.
  4. Inheritance Rights: Children gain access to any inheritance rights from either parent, which may include land, investments, or other assets.
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These benefits contribute to the overall quality and stability of a child’s life during their formative years and beyond.

How to Establish Paternity in Texas

The process of establishing paternity in Texas varies depending on certain circumstances:

When Paternity is Certain (Parents are Married)

If the parents of a child are married at the time of birth, Texas law automatically assumes the husband as the father. His name will appear on the child’s birth certificate as the legal father, granting him all associated rights and responsibilities. Even if the parents later divorce, the father retains parental rights due to paternity being established at birth.

When Parents are Unmarried

When the parents are not married, paternity can be established by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. By signing this form, the father voluntarily acknowledges his relationship with the child, and it confers all legal parental rights and responsibilities to him.

When Paternity is Uncertain

In cases where the identity of the child’s father is uncertain, either parent can file a Petition for Determination of Parentage in court. If requested or ordered by the court, both parties may be required to undergo DNA testing using their samples to determine paternity conclusively.

During this process, if it is found that a man is not biologically related to the child (despite being listed as the father on the birth certificate), he must sign an Acknowledgement of Non-Paternity form, which releases him from any legal parental obligations, including financial support or custody and visitation rights.

However, if a court-ordered paternity test reveals that the person is not the biological father, he may still choose to complete an AOP to establish rights.

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When Paternity is Mistaken

In cases where paternity is uncertain, and the father believes he is not the biological father but has been ordered to pay child support, he can request genetic testing. He must submit a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship, which may lead to DNA testing of both the father and the child.

If the testing proves that the man is not the biological father, the court may terminate child support payments and the parent-child relationship. Nonetheless, it’s essential to note that the man is still responsible for any child support payments up to the date of termination.


Establishing paternity in Texas is a vital process that provides numerous benefits to both parents and children. It secures legal rights and responsibilities for fathers while offering children emotional security and access to essential support. Whether parents are married or unmarried, determining paternity is crucial for the well-being and stability of the child’s life. It ensures that both parents play a vital role in their child’s upbringing, fostering a healthier and happier environment for their growth.


  1. Is establishing paternity necessary if the parents are married when the child is born?
    • No, if the parents are married when the child is born, paternity is automatically assumed for the husband under Texas law, and he has all the legal rights and responsibilities associated with being a father.
  2. What are the benefits of establishing paternity for fathers?
    • Establishing paternity grants fathers the ability to make medical decisions on behalf of the child, claim them as dependents on taxes, and secure visitation rights despite custody disagreements.
  3. How does establishing paternity benefit children?
    • Establishing paternity provides emotional security for children, access to financial support from both parents, and certain health benefits like insurance coverage and inheritance rights.
  4. Can paternity be established if the father’s identity is uncertain?
    • Yes, either parent can file a Petition for Determination of Parentage in court, and DNA testing may be ordered to determine paternity conclusively.
  5. What if a man is ordered to pay child support but believes he is not the father?
    • The man can request a genetic test to prove his non-paternity and petition to terminate the parent-child relationship if the testing confirms he is not the biological father.
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