As a male, if you have a child out of wedlock in Texas, the state does not recognize you as a legal parent. This could have important consequences if you wish to play a role in the upbringing of your child.
To establish your rights as a father, you might have to take a series of legal actions.
The office of the Texas Attorney General describes paternity as legal fatherhood. As an unmarried, biological father, you must establish paternity to gain legal rights to the child. One pathway to fatherhood comes by way of a legal document known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity. While this process could simplify matters, it could also involve several complications:
- The presence of a “presumed” father
- The inability of the biological father to complete the form
- The need for the completion of “the denial of paternity” section
A court-ordered paternity test can also establish paternity. This commonly happens in cases where the mother and father disagree on the identity of the biological father, or when they want to make sure of the father’s identity. DNA tests can establish the biological father with 99% accuracy and they take from 4 to 6 weeks to get results.
Once you establish paternity, you might wish to add your name as a father to your child’s birth certificate. This involves filling out the Texas Vital Statistics Form VS 170, also known as Application for a New Birth Certificate Based on Parentage.
At this point, absence of any complicating factors, you have a legal ground for parental rights. These include the ability to share in decisions on many aspects of the child’s upbringing, including medical care, education and general welfare.