Sometimes, a child in Texas is born to parents who are unmarried. However, that doesn't diminish the active role the father may want to play in his child's life. Children deserve to have the love and support of both parents. Therefore, in order to seek custody and visitation rights, an unmarried father must first establish paternity.
One way unmarried fathers can establish paternity is through an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This is a form that is signed by both parents, and then submitted to the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. It establishes paternity for legal purposes, meaning that the father now has all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent. The father can then seek custody or visitation rights to his child. An AOP can be executed at the hospital after the child is born, at the birth registrar's office or at the Office of the Attorney General child support office. It can also be executed by an AOP certified entity. Parents do not need to pay anything to execute an AOP.
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the child's mother may not want to sign an AOP. If this is the case, paternity can be determined via an order of the court. Usually, this is done through a DNA test. This can be done either with the assistance of a lawyer or if the mother requests child support.
Establishing paternity is an important component of fathers' rights. Fathers deserve to be involved in their child's upbringing, but, if they are not married to the child's mother, they may need to establish paternity first. Once established, fathers can pursue their rights to their child, so they can play an active role in their child's life.
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