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How Can Paternity Be Established?

Fathers play an important role in the lives of their children. They provide for their child's physical needs and emotional needs, and serve as both a parent and a role model. Unfortunately, when an unmarried father in Texas breaks up with his child's mother, the child's mother may try to keep him from seeing the child, even if it is not in his best interests or the child's best interests. Therefore, unmarried fathers may want to seek child custody or visitation rights. However, before they can do so, paternity must be established.

Paternity is the term used to describe the legal connection a father has with his child. When a child is born to married parents, it is presumed that the husband is the child's father for legal purposes. However, if a child is born to unmarried parents, in order for the father to have legal rights to his child, paternity must be established. This can be done in two ways.

The first way is to execute an "Acknowledgement of Paternity." This is a document that is signed voluntarily by both the mother and father stating the man is the child's father. It is often signed at the hospital at the child's birth, although it could also be signed prior to the child's birth or after the child's birth. Once signed, the parents will then obtain a court order establishing paternity.

The second way is to go to court. The court will usually order a DNA test to be done. In general, this test will be administered at no cost. If the test shows the man is the child's biological father, this will establish paternity.

Once paternity is established, the child's mother can pursue child support and the child's father can seek child custody or visitation rights. Most importantly, however, is it gives the father a chance to build a bond with his child, which benefits not just him but the child as well. Those who have questions about this or other father's rights may want to seek legal advice.

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