Paternity - Adoption - Termination


What to do if your child was born out of wedlock or if your husband is not the father or your child.

What is a paternity suit?

This is a lawsuit to determine a legal biological parent.

Under what circumstances is a paternity suit filed?

A paternity suit is filed to determine the biological father or mother of the child.

Who may file a paternity suit?

Generally, the mother, the man claiming to be the father, the child (either individually or through a representative) or governmental agency.

When can you file?

A suit can be filed at any time before the child is born and up until two years after the child is an adult, which is generally 18 years of age.

Why is a paternity suit filed?

To establish the child's legal relationship with a biological parent and to establish child support, visitation, or custody. In certain cases, to reimburse the biological mother for prenatal and postnatal expenses.

What happens after a paternity suit is filed?

If the parties do not agree on the parentage, the court will order blood test on the parties.

Who pays for the blood test?

If the parties cannot agree, the court will decide. The cost are usually shared by the parties.

What happens after the blood test?

The lab will prepare a report for the court. If the test shows that the named parent is NOT the biological parent, the court will dismiss the case. If the test show that the named parent is at least 99% sure to be the parent (no test is 100%), the court will decide custody, visitation, and support if the parties cannot agree.

Is the child's name affected?

Generally, the court will enter an order giving the child the father's last name. However, in some circumstances, the child will retain the mother's last name.

What if the mother is married when the child is conceived or born and the mother's husband is not the father?

Under Texas law, the mother's husband is presumed to be the father of the child. A suit may be brought to have the biological father named as the legal father; this is called a paternity suit.

Who can file this suit?

A paternity suit can be brought by the mother, the husband, the man who claims to be the father, a government agency, or a child-placing agency.

When should this type of paternity suit be filed?

Usually, this suit is brought if a husband and wife are divorced and one of the parties claim that the other spouse is not the biological parent of the child. This type of suit may also be initiated by the person claiming to be the biological parent.

What if a biological father does not want to have anything to do with the child and wants to proceed to terminate his rights to the child?

A proceeding for the termination of his rights may be filed. The procedure is discussed in the "Adoption" section.

Can I settle my case out of court?

Of course. The case can be settled between the parties and their attorneys or through mediation, which is discussed in the "Mediation" section. If you settle without mediation, the court may appoint an attorney to make sure that the child's interest is protected under the law. The court must approve the settlement before it is implemented by the parties.

When is a voluntary paternity (parentage) suit filed?

A voluntary paternity (parentage) suit is filed when a parent acknowledges that he/she is the biological parent of a child and the parents are not married.

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