When the wife of a married man has a baby, he automatically has certain parental rights. The hospital should include his name on the birth certificate, as there is a presumption that he is the father of the child. Even if the couple eventually divorces, the father can request parenting time and decision-making rights during child custody proceedings.
Unmarried fathers do not have quite the same protection as married fathers. Instead, they may need to take a few extra steps to preserve their relationships with their children after a breakup. A man must establish paternity with the state before he can take action in family court to utilize his parental rights.
How does an unmarried father in Texas legally establish paternity?
With the cooperation of the mother
Many unmarried fathers establish paternity immediately after the birth of their children. It is possible for the parents of a child to voluntarily fill out paternity acknowledgment paperwork at the hospital. The state can then include the father’s name on the child’s original birth certificate.
Sometimes, people do not acknowledge paternity at the hospital. However, parents can acknowledge a man’s paternity at any point while the child is still a minor. Parents can execute paperwork together and submit it to the state to amend the existing birth certificate to add the father’s name. These solutions both require the consent and cooperation of the child’s mother.
With the help of the family courts
Sadly, changes in relationship status can impact the legal rights of unmarried fathers. The mother of a child may not want to acknowledge a man after ending her relationship with him or when the conception occurred outside of a committed relationship.
When a father cannot obtain the support of a child’s mother, he may need to go to the Texas family courts. The courts can order genetic testing that can quickly and painlessly establish his genetic relationship with the child. If the test affirms his paternity, he can ask to add his name to the birth certificate. He can then use all the rights and responsibilities that come with parentage in Texas.
Learning about the options for establishing paternity may help unmarried fathers remain as involved as possible in their children’s lives.