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Establishing paternity in Texas

While many children in Texas are born to married parents, there are also numerous births in which parents remain unmarried. Maternity is easily established as a mother gives birth to her child, but paternity is not always automatically established. However, a child is dependent on both parents for love and support in various forms, which makes the establishment of paternity a priority. Paternity benefits not only the child, but also the father in terms of rights and responsibilities.

One of the simplest ways to establish paternity is through acknowledgment. Both of the biological parents must sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, which must be filed with the Vital Statistics Unit. This filing legally establishes the matter, which formalizes a father's rights and duties. Additionally, filing an AOP with the VSU ensures that the father's name will be included on the child's birth certificate. The filing is free of charge and does not imply that child support or other legal action will occur.

In some cases, a mother may not be sure about the identity of her child's father. In other cases, an alleged father might insist that a child is not his. A court order could be used in some situations to legally establish paternity. This avenue could also be used if there is a fear of domestic violence in attempting to have a father sign an AOP. Court action could be initiated through a child support case with the state's Office of the Attorney General. It could also be approached through a private lawyer.

A father might initiate legal action privately to ensure that his rights are protected. Paternity testing might be necessary if a mother is unwilling to agree that the other party is the father. Upon establishing paternity, such an individual would potentially be able to provide health insurance benefits to his child, which typically requires legal documentation of the relationship.

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