Law Office of Michael G. Diaz, P.C.
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Providing Personalized Counsel for a Positive Future
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This is a continuation of the prior discussion about establishing paternity in Texas. I previously discussed presumption of paternity, but today I’ll talk about the other two ways to establish paternity: (1) acknowledgement of paternity and (2) court order of paternity.
An Acknowledgement of Paternity is for when the child’s parents are not married or if the genetic father is not the presumed father of the child. The Acknowledgement of Paternity is a form filled out and signed by the mother and man claiming paternity. The form is filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit and acts as an establishment of paternity.
If there is a presumed father who is not the actual genetic father, the presumed father would sign a Denial of Paternity and then the genetic father can sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity.
In situations where there is a disagreement over the genetic paternity of a child, a court order of paternity may be needed. For instance, if a presumed father won’t sign a Denial of Paternity or a believed genetic father won’t sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity a court case may be needed to establish paternity.
Typically, in such a case, the court will order all alleged fathers to undergo genetic testing. Once the genetic testing is done, the court will adjudicate the legal parent child relationship between the child and the person determined to be the genetic father.
Mothers have automatic legal rights to a child based on the fact that the identity of the mother is obvious. For fathers, the issue of paternity can be a more difficult process.
Texas law sets forth three ways to establish the paternity of a child: (1) presumption of paternity, (2) acknowledgement of paternity, and (3) court order of paternity.
The first method which I’ll discuss today is the presumption of paternity. The presumption of paternity is the easiest method and requires only that the parents be married at the time of the child’s birth. Texas law presumes that the husband is the father of any child born during that marriage and automatically grants legal parental rights to that husband.
Texas law also sets forth three additional situations where a man is presumed to be the father. First, if the husband and wife are no longer married, but the child was born within 300 days of the divorce. Second, if a man marries the child’s mother after the child’s birth and voluntarily claimed paternity with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Finally, a man is presumed the father if he lives continuously with the child for the first two years of the child’s life and represents the child to others as being his child.
In the above situations, a man who is the genetic father of the child doesn’t need to take any further steps to establish his paternity of the child. He automatically enjoys all rights and duties of a parent under Texas law. If the presumed father is not the genetic father then steps must be taken to remove the rights and duties from that person. In my next post, I’ll discuss the two other ways to establish paternity.
Divorce involves a lot of change. One area people going through a divorce need to think about is their will. A will doesn’t change simply because you have divorced. If you have a will that leaves everything to your spouse that doesn’t change unless you redo the will. If 10 years after your divorce you pass away and your will named your ex-spouse as the beneficiary, because you never changed it, then the ex-spouse will still receive the inheritance.
If you don’t already have a will then after a divorce is a great time to set one up. You want to make sure you plan for your children’s future and make provisions on how they will be taken care of if you were to pass away.
Everyone one should have a will, especially if they have children. A will gives you peace of mind because you get to dictate where your hard-earned assets go after you are gone.
One method Texas law uses to enforce child support is motor vehicle registration. In 2016, Texas law began allowing for the denial of motor vehicle registration to parents who aren’t paying his or her child support obligation.
Under the law, anyone who has missed child support payments for six consecutive months will have to resume payments before renewing their vehicle registration. If denied, the parent would have to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Office and get payment plan started to release the hold on their registration. The entire back child support doesn’t have to be paid, but an initial payment plus agreement to a payment plan is required.
The Attorney General’s Office did report an initial uptick in payments when the law went into effect in December 2016, but it is unknown how effective over the long term the law will be. The law only applies to renewals and not new registration and it doesn't apply to cars owned by other people such as a spouse or other family member.
Michael Diaz is a Divorce and Family Law attorney in McKinney, Texas.
Providing effective and efficient solutions to Divorce, Custody, and Family Law clients in McKinney, Frisco, Allen, Plano, Melissa, Princeton, Prosper, Fairview, Celina and throughout Collin County.
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