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Knowing the legal terms can help in addressing paternity issues

The good of society in Texas and the United States as a whole is supposed to be maintained by the exercise of the rule of law. That goes for all the different facets of life in which individuals interact with each other. Family interactions are no different.

Considering how much we all depend on the law for framing how we get along you would think that laws would be written in terms that make them easy to comprehend. But the language of the law has developed over centuries and as everyone knows, old habits can be hard to break.

We have noted in at least one previous post how Texas legal terms sometimes vary from what may be commonly used in other states. For example, what most people likely refer to as child custody, Texas calls conservatorship.

Paternity is another area that can be complicated -- not necessarily by design, but because of the array of definitions that have developed to account for different scenarios.

Here's only a partial glossary of terms to highlight what we mean.

  • Alleged father - this identifies a man who claims or whom someone else claims is a child's biological father.
  • Presumed father - In Texas, this is the man who was married to a child's other at the time of the baby's birth; was married to her at any time in the 300 days prior to the birth; or married the mother after the birth and voluntarily used one of several methods to voluntarily claim paternity and pledge to support the child.
  • Acknowledged father - this designation of legal fatherhood is issued upon the filing of an official Acknowledgment of Paternity form with the state. It has to be signed by the man claiming biological fatherhood, the child's mother and the presumed father, if there is one.
  • Adjudicated father - this is the term applied to fathers named as a result of a court order.

It becomes clear that a lot of factors can come into play in defining what fatherhood means. If you have questions about rights related to paternity or avoiding obligations if you are not a father, speaking with an experienced family law attorney should be high on your list of things to do.

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