Child support payments are a sticking point for many dads. While you and the child's mother were never married and aren't together anymore, you still love your kid. Although many parents in Texas arrange a joint managing conservatorship, mom might still have more control over your child's life than you.
This notion can make it tough to determine what is "fair" to pay in child support. You want what is best for your child without feeling like the money is going to be used as disposable income for mom - what do you do?
Establish paternity to build your legal case
Paternity is important to conservatorship and child support cases in Texas. In fact, our state has two definitions of fatherhood that dads should understand.
1. Presumed father
A man is presumed to be the father if he was married to the mother or resided with the mother during the first two years of the child's life. While it is noble to take on the role of dad under the definition of "presumed fatherhood," this notion can work against you if the child isn't yours.
A man in Houston is disputing a recent order to pay $65,000 in child support after his role as the presumed father was refuted by a DNA test after 14 years. According to state law, fatherhood is presumed until a paternity test proves otherwise.
2. Adjudicated father
An adjudicated father is the man who is determined by the court to be the child's father. Adjudication is determined through a paternity suit, which includes a blood test. You must file a paternity suit within the first four years of a child's life, but there are some exceptions. You may file a suit in dispute of fatherhood or to voluntarily claim fatherhood. Cases can be settled in court with a judge or out of court with mediation.
Establishing paternity is important to the rights of both you as the father and the support of your child. You may want to voluntarily take on the role of fatherhood through adjudication or dispute a claim. Both routes are within your rights as the presumed father of a child in Texas.
Although single parenthood is growing nationwide, the role of a father in a child's life remains relevant. Establishing paternity can help fathers play this supporting role in their child's life.