According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, 42% of single-mother families live in poverty; twice the rate of single-father families in Texas. Having a baby brings joy and new responsibilities for a family. If you happen to be having a baby but are not married to the father it can also deliver added stress, both mentally and financially. When parents aren't married, the law does not automatically recognize the biological father as a legal parent. Paternity must be established. Establishing paternity is determining a child's "legal" father and all the rights and obligations that go along with being a legal father. Why is it important to establish paternity? If you have a baby and are not married to the father, establishing paternity creates rights for both parents and the child.
How does establishing paternity benefit a mom?
From a legal standpoint, it is important for a mother to establish paternity because it makes a child's father legally responsible for his child. This is a requirement before you can request child support. Establishing paternity also helps with other legal issues that come up when a traditional family isn't together, like visitation or custody issues. In the long run, a child might become eligible for a father's medical benefits, social security benefits, veteran benefits and an inheritance but only if the paternity is established.
How does establishing paternity benefit the child?
Most importantly, the child knows the identity of his father. In turn, this hopefully builds a strong relationship with the father and the extended family too. In addition to these important emotional ties, it ensures the child is eligible for child support, health benefits possibly social security benefits and survivor benefits in the future.
How does establishing paternity benefit the dad?
Establishing paternity gives a father important parental rights. It is the first step towards protecting the legal connection a father has with a child. The father's name will appear on the child's birth certificate. It gives the father certain rights to care for the child and help make decisions in their life. Emotionally it establishes an important bond. There are three ways to establish paternity in Texas. There is Voluntary Paternity Establishment, where parents sign a legal document known as the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). The second way is to establish paternity is by Court Ordered Paternity. This comes into play when the parents do not agree on the father's identity. Usually the man in question of paternity and child do genetic testing that is at least 99 percent accurate at determining the child's father. A third way is called Proving Paternity by Presumption. If a man is married to the mother when the child is born or 300 days before he is presumed by law to be the father of a child. It is the simplest way to establish paternity, unless the father contests it, that complicates things. In any of these cases, it is a good idea to hire a board-certified family law attorney when establishing paternity. It can become a complicated legal matter best left to a family law lawyer.