If you and your girlfriend part ways, but she is pregnant with your child, do not assume you will have any rights as a father. In fact, Texas law states that being the biological father is not enough to establish paternity when the parents are not married. Until you take the steps to establish paternity, your child does not legally have a father.
There are several different ways to establish paternity.
Filing an Acknowledgment of Paternity
If you and your child’s mother are in agreement about establishing paternity, the easiest way to take care of it is to fill out and file an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. You will need to have an AOP-certified entity help you with this process. You may sign the form at the hospital, or at any time before or after the birth. You and the mother do not have to fill out the form at the same time.
Getting an agreed paternity order from the court
You and your ex will have to agree you are the father of the child, and you will have to have the judge sign the agreement. Not only does this court order establish your legal fatherhood, it also provides details about visitation or custody and support matters.
Because custody and support details often give rise to disputes, you may need to work with a professional to come to an agreement that works for both of you.
Taking a paternity test and obtaining court-ordered paternity
In many cases, there is a question about who the biological father of the child is. If you are not sure, you may take a paternity test. You must take a DNA or genetic test obtained from a lab accredited by the American Association Blood Bank. The accuracy of these tests is 99 percent. A judge will not consider results from an over-the-counter test.
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