Establishing Paternity in Texas

Establishing paternity in Texas isn’t a simple process. However, it’s still worth pursuing if you think you’ve been incorrectly deemed a father of a child that isn’t yours or if you want to establish paternity and your rights as a father.

Why establish paternity in Texas?

Benefits to parents

By establishing paternity in Texas, parents can make sure their children are taken care of and have access to the rights and benefits they deserve. 

  • For example, by establishing paternity, the father may make medical decisions on behalf of the child and even claim them as a dependent on his taxes. 
  • Should the child’s mother need financial support from the father, she has a better chance of getting it with proof of paternity. This is especially true if there is any dispute about who the child’s father is. 
  • Also, once paternity is established in Texas, a father may visit his child despite any disagreement between him and the mother regarding custody rights. 

Benefits to children

On top of all these benefits for parents, establishing paternity in Texas provides numerous advantages for children. 

  • When a child knows who their biological parent is and has legal recognition from both parents, it helps create emotional security. The child knows that both parents are responsible for their well-being. 
  • They have access to financial support from both parents if needed. They also get certain health benefits, such as insurance coverage and access to family medical history records. 
  • Establishing paternity gives a child access to any inheritance rights they may have from either parent, including land or investments.

All of these benefits contribute to the quality and stability of a child’s life while growing up, which has far-reaching implications into adulthood. 

How to establish paternity in Texas

When paternity is certain

If the parents of a child are married when the child is born, paternity is automatically assumed for the husband under Texas law. The husband's name will appear on the child’s birth certificate as the legal father. As the biological father of the child, he has all the legal rights and responsibilities associated with being a father. 

If the parents are married but later divorce, the father will retain parental rights because paternity was established at birth.

When parents are unmarried

When the parents of a child are not married, paternity can be established by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. This form allows the father to voluntarily acknowledge his relationship with his child. It gives him all legal parental rights and responsibilities moving forward. 

When paternity is uncertain

In cases where the identity of the father of the child is uncertain, either parent may file a Petition for Determination of Parentage in court. If requested by either party or ordered by the court, this will require both parties to submit DNA samples for testing.

During the determination of paternity, if it is found that one man is not biologically related to his child (but was listed as such on their birth certificate), he must sign an Acknowledgement of Non-Paternity form that releases him from any legal parental obligations, including financial support or custody and visitation rights. 

If a court orders a paternity test, the parents weren't married when the child was born, and the paternity test shows the person to not be the father, that's not the end of the road. The father may still complete an AOP if he wants to establish rights.

When paternity is mistaken

In cases where paternity is uncertain, the father may request genetic testing if he believes he is not the father but has been ordered to pay child support. 

The father must submit a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship. A judge may then order genetic testing, which requires the father and child to undergo DNA testing. If the testing shows the man in question is not the biological father, the court may terminate any child support payments and terminate the parent-child relationship. Note, however, that the man in question is still responsible for any child support up to the date of termination.

Requesting a DNA test is something only the father can do. The state is not allowed to do this for anyone. Hello Divorce can support you through this complex process. We offer divorce plans and legal coaching services to help you navigate the process.


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.