Cypress Paternity Lawyers
Answers & Guidance for Paternity Cases
While every divorce can get complicated for parents with children, matters will only be more complex if there are questions about paternity. Fathers can lose their rightful rights if they don’t establish paternity. On the other hand, a mother’s rights could be infringed if an ex-spouse wrongfully gains paternity rights due to a lack of clarity.
Hunt Law Firm, PLLC and our paternity attorneys would be honored to help you figure out and establish paternity. Whether you need to gain or maintain paternity rights as child custody questions come up, we’re here to walk you through the entire process.
Why Is It Important to Prove Paternity?
Proving paternity is important in the context of Texas family law for several reasons, as it establishes the legal relationship between a father and his child. Establishing paternity has significant implications for the child's rights and benefits, as well as the father's rights and responsibilities.
Key reasons to prove paternity include:
- Child support: Once paternity is established, the biological father can become legally responsible for providing financial support for the child through a child support order with monthly payments. Although, paternal right designations can affect the support order.
- Custody and visitation rights: Establishing paternity can grant the biological father the right to seek custody or visitation arrangements. This can be crucial for developing and maintaining a meaningful relationship between the father and the child after a divorce changes the family dynamic.
- Inheritance rights: Proving paternity can allow the child to have legal inheritance rights to the father's estate, including any assets, property, or benefits that may be passed down.
- Medical history: Knowing the identity of the biological father is also important for understanding and managing any potential health issues or genetic conditions that may affect the child by connecting the child to the right paternal medical history.
How is Paternity Established?
Two non-testing methods to establish paternity in Texas are:
- Married when the child is born: When a child is born, the husband of the child’s mother will be presumed to be the biological father of the child. If the husband wants to contest this form of paternity establishment, then he will need to use a Denial of Paternity petition.
- Acknowledgment of Paternity form: If the parents of a child aren’t married when the child is born, then the parents can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form that grants paternity rights to the spouse that did not give birth to the child. This form is used quite often in many different family law situations, including those involving LGBTQ+ families, who we welcome to our firm with open arms.
What Tests are Used to Prove Paternity?
To prove paternity, DNA testing is the most common and accurate method used. DNA tests analyze specific regions of the participants' DNA to determine if there is a biological relationship between the alleged father and the child.
Several types of DNA tests can be used for paternity testing, such as:
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test: PCR is a technique that involves amplifying specific regions of DNA to create multiple copies, allowing for more accurate comparison between the DNA samples. It is highly sensitive and can produce fast and reliable results.
- Short Tandem Repeats (STR) Test: STR testing focuses on analyzing specific regions of the DNA where short sequences of DNA bases are repeated. By comparing the number of repeats in these regions between the alleged father and the child, the test can determine if there is a biological relationship.
- Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) Test: RFLP testing involves cutting DNA samples into fragments using enzymes and then comparing the length of these fragments between the tested individuals.
- Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Test: SNP testing examines variations in individual DNA building blocks (nucleotides) between the tested individuals to look for telltale genetic markers.
The most common test used for paternity testing is the STR test, as it offers a high level of accuracy, quick results, and cost-effectiveness. DNA samples for these tests are typically collected through a painless cheek swab from the alleged father and the child. In some cases, prenatal paternity testing can be performed during pregnancy using samples obtained through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). It is essential to use an accredited laboratory for paternity testing to ensure accurate and reliable results that can be confidently admitted as evidence to a family law court.
What Happens If a Father Won’t Cooperate?
If a father refuses to cooperate with paternity testing, there are legal options available to address the situation. Our Cypress paternity attorneys can walk you through the options, so the most efficient and agreeable way is used. We understand the importance of establishing paternity without causing further strain on your relationship.
Solutions for when a parent won’t take a paternity test could include, based on jurisdiction:
- Court order: If the alleged father refuses to participate in a paternity test voluntarily, the party seeking to establish paternity can petition the court for a court-ordered paternity test. If a judge determines that there is a valid reason for the test, they may issue an order requiring the uncooperative party to submit to the paternity test.
- Contempt of court: If a party refuses to comply with a court-ordered paternity test, they may be held in contempt of court. This can result in various consequences, including fines, penalties, or even jail time, depending on the severity of the violation and any complications that it has caused.
- Presumption of paternity: In some cases, if the alleged father refuses to participate in a paternity test, the court may presume him to be the biological father by default, such as if he was the only person known to be in a relationship with the mother when the child was born.
- Alternative evidence: If a paternity test cannot be conducted due to the non-cooperation of one party, other evidence may be used in court to establish paternity, such as witness testimony, documentation, or historical records. However, the weight given to such evidence will depend on its reliability and relevance to the case.
What is the Paternity Registry?
The Paternity Registry is a confidential database maintained by the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. The registry allows a man who believes he may be the biological father of a child to voluntarily register as the child's potential father by filling out and submitting an Application for Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity form. By registering, the man receives notification of any legal proceedings related to the child, such as adoption or termination of parental rights.
The primary purposes of the Paternity Registry are:
- Protecting the rights of potential fathers: The registry ensures that a potential father receives notice of any legal proceedings involving the child, allowing him to assert his parental rights and participate in decisions related to the child's welfare.
- Facilitating adoptions: In cases where a mother wishes to place her child for adoption, the registry helps identify potential fathers who have registered their interest in the child. This allows the adoption process to proceed more smoothly if the registered man wants to adopt the child first.
- Promoting responsible fatherhood: By registering with the Texas Paternity Registry, a potential father demonstrates his commitment to being involved in his child's life and taking responsibility for his parental duties.
Importantly, the Paternity Registry does not establish paternity, nor does it begin the paternity establishment process. It only allows a potential father to be notified in certain circumstances that would impact the child’s well-being or living situations.
Call Our Firm for Paternity Case Help
Need help figuring out paternity but don’t know where to start? Call (832) 781-0320 to talk with a Cypress paternity attorney from our firm today. We are always happy to hear from new and returning clients who need compassionate guidance and experienced legal counsel. Let’s get through this confusing time together.
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