Paternity in Texas

Paternity Lawyer in Houston, Texas

What do divorce and paternity have in common? When a child is born during a marriage, Texas law presumes that the husband is the father of that child. See Texas Family Code section 160.204(a). Oftentimes, clients file for divorce and must deal with a child born during the marriage to a man who is not the husband.  Because the husband is presumed to be the child’s father under the law, the biological father must be legally adjudicated as the child’s parent, or the husband will remain the child’s legal father for all purposes.  The law does allow a man to submit to genetic testing to deny paternity, but if the actual father is known, he will need to be addressed.  This paternity matter must be addressed during the divorce as children’s issues (child support, medical support, and child custody and visitation) are required to be incorporated within the divorce action.  See Texas Family Code section 6.406.

Child during Texas marriage. Houston Paternity

Please read the following articles for more information on child support in Texas.

Classifications of Fathers in Texas

There are four classifications of fathers in Texas:

(1) Adjudicated Father – a father legally recognized as a child’s father by a court.

(2) Presumed Father – a father who meets the requirements under section 160.204 of the Texas Family Code;

(3) Acknowledged Father – a man who has properly signed and filed an acknowledgment of paternity.

(4) Alleged Father – a man who is alleged to be the biological father of a child but who does not meet the criteria set forth above.

When a child is born during a marriage that is not the husband’s, the husband is the ‘presumed’ father; the actual father is the ‘alleged father.’ If the husband signs an acknowledgment of paternity when the child is born, he is the ‘acknowledged father.’ Once the proper steps have been taken, the ‘alleged father’ will become the ‘adjudicated father,’ the parent-child relationship will be established between the father and child for all purposes.

Adjudicating the Father in Texas

Texas law will legally recognize a father who signs an acknowledgment of paternity, admits paternity in open court, or is proven to be the father by paternity testing.

An alleged father admitting to paternity in open court or who executes an acknowledgment of paternity will not be sufficient in the case of a divorce because the husband is a ‘presumed’ father or, in some cases, an ‘acknowledged’ father.  In the scenario above, genetic testing is required to adjudicate the child’s biological father. See section 160.631 of the Texas Family Code.  The lawyer must add the biological father to the divorce suit as an interested party.  Once that party is served and joined to the suit, a request for genetic testing is filed. The court will then order either the ‘presumed’ or ‘acknowledged” father and the ‘alleged’ father to submit to genetic testing along with the child. Once the testing is completed, the results are submitted to the court for findings.

In my decade of litigating divorce matters, judges have also required the filing of an acknowledgment of paternity along with the husband’s denial.  Although not required by law and somewhat redundant, taking the additional step to satisfy the court will ultimately speed up the divorce process.

Paternity and Divorce in Texas

If you are going through a divorce and find yourself in the situation described in this section, you will need to be prepared to provide the alleged father’s information and expect that your divorce will take longer than the average.  If you are a family law practitioner, you must be very careful and file the appropriate pleading to expedite the divorce and a proper adjudication.

The National Screening Center in downtown Houston performs most of the paternity testing in Houston and surrounding areas.

Here at The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., we can assist you with divorce and paternity issues related to this article.  Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to tackle these tough issues.  Contact our Houston divorce lawyers here at The Rudisel Law. P.C. if you feel a change has occurred since your divorce was finalized that warrants a modification.

Shawn M. Rudisel is a Houston-based divorce attorney focusing exclusively on Texas family law issues.

Contact Us Today for Your Free Case Evaluation. 713-781-7775

If you need a top Paternity Lawyer in Houston, Texas, call The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C. We can walk you through the complexities of paternity law in Texas and resolve your matter quickly.