Going through the legal process to confirm that you are the father of your children may provide numerous benefits for both you and them. It may be especially vital if you are not married to your children’s mother. When you establish paternity in Texas, you give your children an official record of their heritage. It also helps ensure you maintain a relationship with your children if you ever separate from their mother.

The Texas Attorney General’s guide to paternity and child support indicates that your marriage status has a significant effect on your legal relationship with your children. If you are married to your children’s mother, state law automatically recognizes you as the father. However, if you are not married when your children are born, you need to go through the steps to establish paternity before you get any legal parental rights to your children. When you establish paternity, you may get your name on your children’s birth certificates, receive access to school and medical records, and petition for custody or parenting time if you end your relationship with the mother.

In Texas, there are three ways to establish paternity. If you and the child’s mother agree that you are the father, you may sign and submit an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. You may even do this at the hospital before or after the birth. You may also work together with a judge to sign a paternity court order. You may do this if you and the mother agree about legal rights, such as child support and visitation. If you are not able to agree with the child’s mother about parentage, you may go through a court-ordered paternity process. While these processes may not always require a DNA test, you may choose to get one before signing any legal documents.

This general information on establishing paternity is intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.