Determining paternity is important which is why family law provides the option for parents to bring paternity actions to establish the paternity of a child. Establishing paternity can have an important legal and emotional impact on the child, the father and families. Establishing paternity also has important financial implications for the parties involved. Both mothers and fathers can bring paternity actions to establish paternity. DNA testing from the child and putative father is used to determine paternity.

In Texas, paternity of a child is presumed if the parents are married. A woman’s husband is presumed to be the father of children born during the marriage. If there is a paternity dispute, and the couple is planning to divorce, it is important to establish paternity prior to a divorce decree declaring the husband the father of any children born during the marriage.

In circumstances when the parents are unmarried, it is important to establish or challenge paternity early on in the child’s life. Unmarried fathers cannot obtain child custody or visitation rights until paternity has been legally established. In addition to being important for fathers, establishing paternity is also important for children. Establishing paternity allows child support to be ordered which benefits the children and can also provide them access to the father’s healthcare and inheritance rights.

A paternity action can be used to prove or disprove paternity and can be brought by both the child’s mother or the putative father of the child. Establishing paternity has a number of important legal, emotional and financial implications for parents, children and families which is why it is helpful to understand the process of establishing paternity and its implications.