A child does not have a legally recognized father if the parents are not married unless a few steps are first taken to establish paternity.
Paternity in Texas can be established voluntarily and involuntarily:
• Voluntarily: If both the mother and father agree on paternity, they can sign an “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” This is often done at the hospital when the child is born.
• Involuntarily: If the parties involved have doubts or disagree who the father is, then one parent can file a paternity suit with the courts for the father to take a blood test to confirm their parental status. If the man doesn’t respond to the lawsuit, the courts can declare him to be the legal father.
For the child, establishing paternity is important for a number of reasons. Paternity establishment allows the child rights to inheritance, worker’s compensation (in the event of the father’s death on the job), dependent-based government assistance, access to personal information and the right to gain shelter from the father.
Custody Rights and Schedules
Parents can begin working to negotiate custody schedules and child support after paternity has been established. Unmarried parents in Texas have the same legal obligations that married or divorced parents do for their children. They will still need to go through the system to establish schedules, custody and child support arrangements.