Paternity Lawyers in Austin
Representing Mothers, Fathers & Children in Travis County
Paternity is the legal term for fatherhood. Establishing paternity means that a man is legally recognized as a child’s father. Being a legal parent comes with a long list of rights and responsibilities.
Establishing paternity is beneficial for mothers, fathers, and children alike. At Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC, we represent both mothers and fathers in paternity cases. We recognize that this process can be crucial for parents who are seeking financial support or who want to exercise their parental rights. Our Austin paternity attorney is here to help you resolve the dispute quickly and effectively.
How to Establish Paternity in Texas
In Texas, paternity is established automatically if the mother is married when her child is born. Her husband is recognized as the child’s legal father and his name will be included on the child’s birth certificate. If the mother is unmarried when she gives birth, the child does not technically have a legal father until paternity has been established.
- Voluntary Paternity - Voluntary paternity is when the mother and father agree that the man is the child’s biological – and therefore legal – parent. You can voluntarily establish paternity at the hospital when your child is born or later on by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form and mailing it to the Vital Statistics Unit in Austin.
- Involuntary Paternity - Paternity can also be established involuntarily through a court proceeding. If the mother and father disagree on paternity, one party can file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage to initiate the proceedings. The child or, in some situations, the state may also be able to file this petition.
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Texas?
In the State of Texas a child's alleged biological father has up to 4 years to bring a paternity case before the courts. However, there are cases where a child is born without any alleged biological father in which case the father may bring a paternity suit before the courts at anytime even if the child is now an adult.
During the court proceeding, the alleged father may be ordered to undergo DNA testing. If testing reveals that the man is the biological father, his name will be added to the child’s birth certificate. If the alleged father fails to appear in court, the court may enter a default order and declare him the child’s legal father.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity does more than just add a man’s name to a child’s birth certificate. It offers numerous benefits to mothers, fathers, and children alike.
By establishing paternity:
- Mothers can receive much-needed child support
- Fathers can have a relationship with their children by exercising their custody and visitation rights
- Fathers can have a say in their child’s upbringing
- Mothers and fathers can share the responsibilities and costs of raising their child
- Children can grow up with two parents, which has been proven to be beneficial to a child’s life