In Texas, when a man gets a woman pregnant, this does not automatically give the man paternal rights to the child. Unlike married couples where there is the presumption that the husband is the father of the child, an unmarried father needs to establish paternity.
There are two major reasons to initiate a paternity suit. One is for the mother of the child to obtain child support. By legally establishing paternity, the father of the child will be required to provide financial support for the child. The other reason is for the father to maintain a legal relationship with the child. This is especially true in situations where unmarried parents are no longer together.
A paternity suit will ensue if the parents cannot agree on paternity. This typically results in a blood test being ordered. Depending on certain factors involved in the matter, one or both parties will be required to pay for it. In most cases, the costs are shared. If the test indicates that the man is the father, then child support, custody and visitation issues can be addressed. If the parities cannot come to an agreement on these matters, then the court will intervene and make a decision.
The basics of establishing paternity may seem straight forward, but paternity matters can get complicated. Thus, it is important that unmarried parents dealing with this and any other type of family law issue understand what rights and options they might have. This not only protects their individual rights but also the best interests of the children involved.