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Understanding a paternity suit

At the Law Office of Roland R. Esparza PC in Texas, we understand the difficulties you face with regard to your fatherhood if you are an unwed father. While your child’s mother automatically becomes the legal mother when the child is born, you do not automatically become his or her legal father. Without legal fatherhood, you have no legal right to see your child, become an integral part of his or her life, or obtain his or her school and medical records.

As FindLaw explains, if you and your child’s mother do not agree that you are in fact the child’s father, you can file a paternity suit in court, asking that the judge resolve the issue and declare you as your child’s legal father.

Paternity test

The judge will require that you undergo a paternity test, a scientific analysis of your blood to see if your DNA matches that of your child. In Texas, the criterion for legal fatherhood is a test result showing a 99 percent likelihood that you are the father.

Once the paternity test confirms your biological fatherhood, the judge will declare that you are your child’s legal father and will order that your name be put on your child’s birth certificate. In addition, (s)he likely will order that your child’s last name be the same as yours, assuming the child’s mother has not already given him or her your last name.

Bear in mind that the judge also will rule on any other issues that exist between you and your child’s mother concerning this child, including the following:

  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support

While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the paternity suit process and what to expect.

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