When you father a child with someone outside of wedlock in Texas, you need to take certain legal steps if you want to establish rights over your child. The main thing you must do if you wish to pursue custody or visitation with your child is establish legal paternity.
Per the Attorney General of Texas, establishing paternity offers benefits for you, the father, but it is also advantageous for your child. There are two main ways you might go about establishing paternity in Texas.
Establishing paternity through an Acknowledgement of Paternity
If there is no question or dispute over who fathered a child, you have the option of voluntarily filling out an Acknowledgement of Paternity. To do so, you and your child’s mother must work alongside an AOP-certified entity trained by the Office of the Attorney General to navigate the next steps.
Establishing paternity through a court-ordered paternity test
If there is some dispute over who fathered the child at the center of the matter, you may need to prove you fathered the child by taking a court-ordered paternity test. This involves you and your presumed child having your cheeks swabbed, and then the DNA sample must show that there is a 99% likelihood that you are the child’s father. Once you do so, test results typically become available within about four-to-six weeks.
Knowing who his or her father is helps your child develop self-esteem and a stronger sense of identity. It also gives him or her more access to extended family members, important medical information, financial resources and other benefits.