An overview of Texas paternity proceedings

When parents are not married, Texas law requires that paternity be proven if the father wants to continue a legal relationship with the child. If the parentage of the child is in dispute, the first step in this process is to file a paternity suit.

A potential father, mother, child or a government agency can pursue the action; a father or child usually files the motion so that they can continue a legal relationship while a mother or government entity might file in an effort to establish child support. A paternity lawsuit can be filed even when a child is an adult. However, if another party is presumed to be the father, others have only four years after the birth of the child to bring the lawsuit. When a couple is married, paternity is assigned to the husband. However, if another man is thought to be the father, a lawsuit can be filed to prove paternity.

During proceedings, the court will order blood tests on the relevant persons, and the involved parties usually share the costs. Once the test is complete, the lab will submit a report to the judge, and if the person in question is not the parent, the case is dismissed. On the other hand, if the results suggest that a person is 99 percent likely to be the father, he may then seek child custody, child support and visitation.

Even after paternity has been established, individuals may still face additional disputes when attempting to negotiate custody or visitation plans. If this occurs, an attorney who is familiar with family law cases could provide representation and advice throughout proceedings.

Source: Findlaw, "Texas Paternity Suits", September 08, 2014

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