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Unmarried fathers and paternity

When a child is born to unmarried parents in Texas, the father will not exercise his rights as a parent until and unless his paternity is established. As a noncustodial parent, the unmarried father must take this necessary step in order to seek and obtain visitation rights with his child.

Paternity may be established in several ways. If the parents agree that the man is the father, both may sign an acknowledgement of his paternity and file it with the court. If the man is uncertain, however, it is important that he make certain he is the father through genetic testing before filing such a document, as the legal acknowledgement can be very difficult or sometimes impossible to later rescind.

In the event a child support case is opened through the Office of the Attorney General in Texas, genetic testing will be free. Upon receiving a child support notice, the man can request the genetic testing and then must go to have it done. The mother will have to bring the child for testing as well. Sometimes, a father will need to open a paternity case through the courts. The court may then send the father and child for genetic testing and order the costs to be paid by the parents.

Establishing paternity is the first step necessary in order for an unmarried father to obtain his fathers' rights. Upon establishing paternity, the man may then petition the court for custody or visitation rights with his child so that he can build a relationship with him or her. In some cases, a man may need the help of a family law attorney as he goes through the process, especially if the mother is denying that he is the father or keeping the child away from him. A family law attorney may file the necessary petitions to get the paternity testing order.

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