Sometimes, if a child's parents are unmarried when the child is born and the child's mother has sole custody of the child, she may wish to pursue child support from the child's father. Similarly, the child's father may want to pursue visitation rights. For either of these events to occur, however, paternity must be established.
In general, paternity can be established in Texas either voluntarily through the execution of an acknowledgement of paternity or through DNA testing and a court hearing. However, there are times when a man will be presumed to be a child's father. The following are circumstances when this presumption may occur.
Under Texas law, paternity will be presumed in several circumstances. If the child's parents were married when the child was born, the husband is presumed to be the child's father. If the child is born before the 301st day following the date the marriage ends due to death, annulment, invalidity or divorce, the husband is presumed to be the child's father.
If the man married the child's mother before the child was born and voluntarily asserted paternity of the child, paternity may be presumed within 301 days of the end of the marriage (even if the marriage was invalid), and either:
- The assertation of paternity is part of a record filed with the vital statistics unit; or
- The man voluntarily signed the child's birth certificate as the child's father; or
- There is a recorded promise that the man agreed to support the child as his own.
Finally, paternity may be presumed if, during the first two years following the child's birth, the man lived with the child and represented to the public that he was the child's father.
There are ways to rebut these presumptions of paternity. However, it is important to understand what is required to determine whether a man is a child's father. Knowing whether the man is presumed to be the father is important when legally establishing paternity, so both the child's mother and father can pursue their rights.