In Texas, when a child is born to a couple who is not married, the father is not automatically listed on the birth certificate. The child doesn’t have a father that Texas law will recognize. There are specific steps that must be taken in order for a man to be legally recognized as a child’s father.

Acknowledgment of Paternity

If both parents sign this form and then file it with the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, then the male becomes the legal father. Once this happens, the man’s name can be placed on the child’s birth certification.

The best time to have this form signed is right after the baby is born. The forms are at hospitals across the state, and hospitals take care of sending in the form.

This form has an additional part titled Denial of Paternity. This portion of the form is signed by a man who is no longer married to the mother, is not the father of the child and when the baby’s birth occurs within 300 days of the date of divorce. In addition, if a mother is married to someone who is not the biological father, then the husband has to sign the Denial of Paternity. The mother and biological father cannot sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity until the Denial of Paternity is signed.

If the woman’s husband refuses to sign the Denial of Paternity, then either the mother or the father can appeal to the Attorney General or retain an attorney to have the court establish paternity.

An Acknowledgment of Paternity can be changed up to 60 days after it is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The mother or the father may rescind their signature by filing a motion with the court.

Should the father believe that the child is not his, a case can be opened with the Attorney General. The same is true if the father refuses to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity; however, he can ask for a DNA test to determine paternity.

Once paternity is established, the biological and legal father of the child may be required to pay child support and health care and can be granted visitation.

As you can see, establishing paternity in Texas can be quite involved, depending on your unique circumstances. An experienced family law attorney can provide more information on paternity, visitation and child custody.

Source: Texas Attorney General, “Establishing Paternity” Sep. 27, 2014