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What are the three ways to establish paternity in Texas?

When a couple has a child in Texas, it is important to everyone that there be a legal father on record. There are numerous reasons for this. It is in the best interest of the child to know who the father is. The mother can benefit from knowing exactly where she should go to receive payments to support the child. In many instances, the father will want to be a part of the child's life and it helps to have proof of the identity of the father.

There are three ways that paternity can be established in Texas. They are voluntary, through an agreed paternity order or court-ordered paternity. With voluntary paternity, the parents will sign a legal document that is known as an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This is a frequently used method to establish paternity. An agreed paternity order will involve the parents and a judge signing a court order that states the identity of the child's father. The legal rights of the father must be agreed upon as part of this document. With court-ordered paternity, the court will resolve the issue if there is no agreement on the identity of the biological father.

All three will establish a legal father for the child. The latter two will establish the legal father, custodial and visitation rights, and the support - medical and financial - that must be agreed to. Getting a paternity test is the most assured way of determining the truth as to whether a man is the father of a child or not. A paternity test - also known as a DNA test - can be given by a lab that has been accredited by the American Association Blood Bank. It is not allowable for over-the-counter testing procedures to be used in court. It is possible to have a free DNA test through the state's Office of the Attorney General.

With paternity, it is a key to a child's life as well as the lives of the parents to know whether or not the putative father is actually the biological father. Since fathers' rights can be a complicated situation, the first step to settling it is to know exactly who the father is. This can resolve disputes and help everyone to decide what the best course of action is for themselves and the child. Speaking to a legal professional can answer many questions and provide assistance with a paternity case.

Source: Texas Office of the Attorney General, "Paternity Child Support and You," accessed on Oct. 20, 2015

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