In Texas, paternity is the legal identification of fatherhood; it creates an undeniable and important bond between a father and his child. An unmarried man who sires a child is not automatically recognized as the father. Instead, an unmarried couple must establish paternity in order for the father to be recognized legally as the parent.
In Texas, paternity can be confirmed in two ways. The first option is to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, a legal document which identifies the father. Both parents must sign the form voluntarily. If there is a doubt about a certain man's paternity, such as more than one man could possibly be the father, then the man who wants to sign the form should submit to genetic testing before signing the form.
The second way of establishing paternity is by getting a court order. This is done by hiring an attorney or filing a request with the court. The process includes genetic testing too.
Establishing paternity is important because it creates a legal bond between the father and child that provides many benefits to both parents and child. The mother benefits when paternity is established because it makes the child's father legally responsible for child support but also makes the child eligible medical benefits, Social Security and even direct inheritance. The father benefits by taking the first steps towards cementing his legal connection with his child. And the child benefits from knowing his or her father's identity and, even more importantly, having a relationship with his or her father.
Source: TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov, "How to establish paternity," Accessed on Dec. 30, 2014