If you’re not married, you may not be sure how you’ll have the right to custody of your child or what kind of child support you may need to pay, if any. It’s important to address those questions as soon as you can. As an unmarried father, you don’t automatically get the same rights as a married man. That means that you will need to establish paternity and make smart legal decisions to obtain custody of your child and to know if you will have to pay support.
In Texas, paternity is a concept that is extremely important. It proves that a man has certain rights and responsibilities to his child. Paternity can be established in one of three ways:
- A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity
Marriage is the only way that a father is automatically assumed to be the father of a child. No additional steps have to be taken if a man is married to the mother of the child. He is presumed to be the child’s biological parent.
An acknowledgement of paternity can help you if you and the mother agree that you’re the father. This AOP can be signed at the hospital, the court and is something your attorney can assist with if needed.
Court is the third method. This is used when one person doesn’t agree that the man is the father. Court is used to seek DNA paternity testing and a court order to determine the truth.
Why does establishing paternity help you seek custody?
Without being married, there is no assumption that you are the father of a child. As a result, you won’t be given custody rights unless you establish paternity in one of the three ways above.
Establishing paternity can be as simple as signing a form to acknowledge what you know is true. It could also be as simple as requesting a DNA test. Taking these steps will help you prove that you are the father of the child and establish the paternity rights that you want to have. Your attorney can help you establish your rights if you’re not sure how you want to proceed.