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Establishing paternity in Texas

Today, many children who are born in the U.S. and in states like Texas are born to unwed mothers. When an unwed mother gives birth, she automatically retains sole custody of the child. This means that, without taking further steps to establish paternity, the biological father has no grounds to petition for child custody or visitation rights. Additionally, a single mother is not able to file for child support until paternity has been established. For these and a host of other reasons, it's important for Houston-area fathers to take steps to establish paternity.

When possible, a child needs the support and involvement of both parents. The fact that a mother and father are not married, does not negate the important role that each play in raising and financially providing for a child. Even in cases where a mother and father live and are very much together, unless they are married additional steps must be taken to ensure a father has legal parentage rights.



According to the Attorney General of Texas, one way to establish paternity in the state of Texas is for both parents to sign what's known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity. While it's best to complete an AOP and establish paternity immediately after a child's birth and while still in the hospital, unwed parents can also complete and file an AOP at a later date.

In cases where one parent fails to sign an AOP, a father or mother can take steps to establish paternity via a court order. These cases are commonly referred to as paternity cases and can be filed by either a father or mother as a means to gain child custody and visitation rights as well as child support.

Paternity cases often involve other complex legal and highly-sensitive issues that are best handled by a legal professional. Fathers who want to take steps to establish paternity to gain child custody and visitation rights would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. Likewise, single mothers who wish to file a paternity case to compel a father to pay child support may also benefit from the advice and assistance of a legal professional.


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