If you have a child outside of marriage in Texas, you must take steps to declare legal paternity. Doing so protects your rights as a father and your parental relationship.
Review the process of seeking legal paternity in the Lone Star State as well as the benefits.
Methods to establish paternity
If you are sure you fathered the child and the child’s mother agrees, you can both sign the state’s Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This document is available at the hospital or birthing center after the baby is born, or you can obtain it from your county court or the local office of vital statistics after the birth.
When either parent has questions about paternity, they can ask for a legal DNA test to make a determination. This test involves a simple cheek swab and can determine biological fatherhood with 99% accuracy. If you are the child’s father, the court will confirm your request for legal paternity.
Benefits and responsibilities of paternity
When you receive an order of legal paternity in Texas, you can request custody of or visitation with your child. The state will also enter a child support order if you live separately from the child’s mother. In addition to maintaining your right to have a relationship with your child, legal paternity gives your child access to benefits in your name, such as Social Security and veterans benefits as well as inheritance.