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How do Dallas fathers establish paternity?

We'll continue this week on our family law blog with an in-depth look at the rights of Dallas fathers according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This information on fathers' rights is general in nature only and not intended as specific legal advice.

Since our last post discussing the definition of a father in Texas, some readers may be asking: how does an unmarried man who doesn't meet one of the basic definitions of "father" go about establishing paternity of a child? One answer is through our state's paternity registry. The registry actually serves two purposes:

  • Protecting an unmarried father's parental rights, assuming that he seeks to take responsibility for a child he has fathered; and
  • In cases where an unmarried father refuses to register, helping speed the process of that child's adoption.

It should be noted that registration does not add a father's name to a birth certificate or establish paternity in the eyes of the law.

There are, nevertheless, instances where registration can be advantageous. If a man was intimate with a woman and found out after their relationship ended that she was pregnant, he could register his intent to claim paternity. If more than one man claims paternity of a child, they would each file separately. A man may also wish to file if the mother refuses to acknowledge his paternity.

The requisite form is available on the Department of State Health Services' website (link below) and must be filed no less than 31 days after the baby is born. A legal professional can help unmarried fathers with questions about the form, the process or any other ways to protect their rights as fathers.

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services, "Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity - Paternity Registry," accessed on June 28, 2015

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