Houston Paternity Attorney
If you are seeking to establish paternity or if you want to challenge an allegation of paternity, it is important to consult with a family law attorney who can inform you of your paternity rights and the legal implications of a paternity action. At The Alsandor Law Firm, we are experienced in representing both clients seeking to establish paternity for the purposes of custody, visitation or support as well as clients seeking to challenge or disestablish the paternity of a child.
We take a comprehensive approach to paternity cases to protect the rights of both mothers and fathers in cases involving support, visitation and custody. For more information about your paternity rights in a paternity action, please contact The Alsandor Law Firm.
What Is Paternity?
The term “paternity” refers to a determination of fatherhood. This requires proving or disproving that a person is the father of a child. Once paternity is established, that person becomes the child’s legal father. A child’s biological father may or may not be their biological father. A legal father may also be an adoptive parent, step-parent, or someone else who is legally responsible for the child.
Establishing “paternal rights” means determining who has legal parental rights and responsibilities as a father. Like “paternity,” a child’s biological father is not always the person who has paternal rights. Parental rights and responsibilities may include visitation time, custody, support, and more.
How to Establish Paternity in Texas
Paternity may be established either voluntarily or involuntarily in Texas.
Voluntary establishment of paternity requires an agreement between a child’s parents and signing an “Acknowledgement of Paternity.”
This may be done at the hospital when a child is born or at a later date. If you sign the acknowledgment at a later date, you can mail the form to the Texas Vital Statistics Unit in Austin. If the birth certificate has already been issued, then the Texas Vital Statistics may require a fee to update the birth certificate and mail you a new copy.
You may obtain an Acknowledgement of Paternity from:
- A hospital
- A local birth registrar
- The child support office
- Texas Vital Statistics Unit
- A paternal rights attorney
It can be helpful to work with a Houston paternity attorney if you are dealing with a voluntary paternity case. Once you establish paternity, you will need to determine visitation, child custody, support, and more. These issues can become very complex quickly.
When paternity establishment is involuntary, you must do it through a court proceeding. The process is involuntary when either of the parents disputes paternity. If the potential father does not appear in court, the court may issue a default order declaring him to be the legal father. If both parents appear in court and agree on parentage, then the court will automatically issue an order declaring the father to have legal paternity.
Ordering a Paternity Test
However, if either parent denies paternity or claims they do not know the parentage of a child, the court may order a paternity test. The paternity test will require collection of DNA from the child and both parents. The test will involve a swab on the inside of the cheek and laboratory analysis. If the DNA test determines biological parentage, then the court will issue an order establishing paternity. The court may issue orders for child support, visitation, and custody.
If, however, the DNA test determines that one parent does not have a biological tie to the child, then the court will dismiss the paternity case. If you are facing a paternity case in court, then you should work with a Houston paternity attorney to make sure you have all of the evidence necessary to support your case.
Why Should Parents Establish Paternity?
It’s important to establish paternity for all parties involved in a paternity case. The parents should be able to share parental responsibilities and costs, and children have a right to a relationship with both parents.
You can work with a Houston paternity attorney to establish paternity of a child helps in the following ways:
- A child can:
- form a relationship with both of their parents.
- learn about the cultural and medical histories of both parents.
- have access to medical insurance and other benefits from both parents.
- Parents can share responsibilities of raising a child.
- Parents can share the costs of raising a child.
- The legal father can:
- gain rights to their child.
- show the child they care about them.
- develop a bond with their child.
- participate in the life of their child.
When Will a Court Order a Paternity Test?
During an involuntary paternity case, the court may issue an order for a paternity test. In this situation, the court will require the potential father to give the court a DNA sample. That sample will be compared with the DNA of the child. Specific situations that may result in an order for a DNA test may include:
- Establishing biological parentage;
- Establishing legal parentage;
- Obtaining a legal name change;
- Amending a birth certificate;
- Establishing visitation;
- Challenging child custody; and
- Ordering child support.
If you have been ordered to take a paternity test, or if you need to get a paternity test for your child’s other parent, contact a Houston paternity attorney right away.
Establishing Paternity for Custody, Visitation or Child Custody
Cheryl Alsandor is board certified in family law by the Texas Board Legal Specialization and has extensive experience in paternity cases, especially those involving support, visitation or child custody disputes. If you are a father seeking to establish paternity rights for custody or visitation or a mother seeking to challenge a custody order, we can protect your rights and the best interests of your children.
Establishing Paternity Rights for Support
We represent mothers seeking to establish paternity rights in order to collect child support. Our attorney can help you obtain a court ordered DNA test to collect child support. If you are pregnant or have recently had a child and want to establish parentage to ensure support income for the child, please contact us for an immediate consultation or case evaluation.
Challenging a Paternity Allegation
If you want to disestablish paternity rights or challenge a paternity allegation, it is important that you take legal action as soon as possible. Once you are determined to be the father of the child and you begin to pay support, it is difficult, often impossible, to set aside paternity through the court. The court is interested in protecting the best interest of the child and that includes making sure the child receives support, even if the paternity is attributed to a non-biological father.
Paternity Disputes Involving Older Children
Sometimes paternity cases arise when children are older. The father returns and wants to be a part of those children’s lives. If you are a mother seeking to prevent custody or visitation of an estranged father or you are a father who wants visitation or custody of your older children, please contact our office for more information about your paternity rights.
Contact a Houston Paternity Attorney for Help Today
Contact The Alsandor Law Firm for a consultation with Cheryl Alsandor, a paternity and custody law specialist, or another family law attorney, serving clients throughout the Greater Houston, Texas area. Our Houston paternity attorney can guide you through a paternity case and make sure you protect your rights at every step.