When divorcing with kids, most fathers don’t question the paternity of their children. In General, it is assumed that the man in the marriage is the father of the child. Most couples start their divorcing proceedings for visitation, child support, and custody immediately. Yet, for other couples, the paternity of their child is in question. As a top-rated Arlington, TX divorce lawyer from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC. explains If there is any doubt of paternity, it’s important to establish paternity in divorcing proceedings so any financial issue can be resolved and even benefit the child in their interest to connect with their biological parents.
What is Paternity?
Paternity is legal fatherhood. By law, a baby born into a married couple’s family is recognized as the child’s legal guardian. When paternity is established, the legal parent is entitled to custody and visitation and held responsible for child support to the parent with custody,
How is Paternity established?
In Texas, a man is presumed to be the father under Tex. Fam. Code § 160.204, under the reason that the couple were still married at the time, within the end of 300 days of the end of a marriage, or the child was born during the divorce. When paternity is established, the biological parents are legally responsible. Under the law in Texas, the mother can claim their spouse as the father of their children. The court will require the father to pay child support to the mother until the paternity of the father is proven otherwise. Even if the couple isn’t married, acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) can be filed to establish the child’s right to their father. If there is a concern of paternity with the child, under Tex. Fam. Code § 160.502, a DNA test can be requested. If the courts grant the request, and if the DNA test proves that the child is not related to Father, then the court may order a termination of child support and legal obligation.
When Paternity is established, and the Husband is the Father
After a DNA test is performed and testing has proven the husband has biological connection to the child, AOP is established. From there, the husband has full legal rights to the child and becomes their legal guardian. Still, AOP requires the father to take up responsibilities for their child. After paternity is established, the father’s name will appear on the birth certificate. The Father will then be legally responsible for child support, health care, and various medical expenses. The child would also be able to inherit assets from their biological father.
What if the spouse is not the father?
If a child is proven to be not biologically related to the presumed father, the husband can sign a Denial of Paternity form or DOP for the court. When a denial of Paternity is complete, the husband states to the court that they are not the child’s father. The court will then file a termination of the legal connection to the child. However, the Husband will still be responsible for the child’s child support until termination, which is reported by the Attorney General of Texas. If the ex-spouse wants to continue to be the father, they can choose to continue to support the child financially.
What if the wife gets or is pregnant during the divorce?
In some divorces, a woman can find herself pregnant during a divorce. In Texas, if a child is conceived during the divorce, the divorce will be postponed until the child is born to finalize the divorce. After the child is born, genetic testing can be performed to determine the paternity of the newborn. If the paternity proves that the husband is the father, the divorce proceeding must include custody and child support. However, if the husband is proven not to be the father, then the child’s paternity must be established before the divorce can be finalized.