Welcome back! Let’s dive in to the third way in which paternity can be established in Texas: an adjudication of paternity. Under chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, an “adjudicated father” is defined as a man who has been adjudicated by a court to be the father of a child. Well that is not very helpful is it? Kind of like trying to describe the color blue to a blind person by saying that it looks very blue. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
Texas law provides that a civil proceeding may be maintained to adjudicate the parentage of a child, and that such proceedings are governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. One of the main considerations when discussing suits to adjudicate parentage in Texas is whether you have standing to bring the suit. Subject to certain exceptions, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be maintained by:
- (1) the child;
- (2) the mother of the child;
- (3) a man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated;
- (4) the support enforcement agency or another government agency authorized by other law;
- (5) an authorized adoption agency or licensed child-placing agency;
- (6) a representative authorized by law to act for an individual who would otherwise be entitled to maintain a proceeding but who is deceased, is incapacitated, or is a minor;
- (7) a person related within the second degree by consanguinity to the mother of the child, if the mother is deceased; or
- (8) a person who is an intended parent. Keep in mind, however, that once a child having no presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father becomes an adult, the adult child is the only one who has standing to bring a suit for parentage.
Who needs to be a party to a suit to adjudicate parentage you might ask? Good question! The following individuals must be joined as parties in a proceeding to adjudicate parentage:
- (1) the mother of the child; and
- (2) a man whose paternity of the child is to be adjudicated.
Another important consideration involving a suit to adjudicate parentage is when such a suit needs to be filed. Under Texas law, a proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of a child having no presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father may be commenced at any time. However, the general rule is that a proceeding to adjudicate parentage that is brought by a presumed father, the mother, or another individual concerning a child with a presumed father shall be commenced not later than the fourth anniversary of the date of the child’s birth. There are certain exceptions to this four-year limitations period. For instance, a proceeding seeking to adjudicate the parentage of a child having a presumed father may be maintained at any time if the court determines one of two things:
- (1) that the presumed father and the mother of the child did not live together or engage in sexual intercourse with each other during the probable time of conception; or
- (2) the presumed father was precluded from commencing a proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of the child before the expiration of the four-year limitations period because of the mistaken belief that he was the child’s biological father based on misrepresentations that led him to that conclusion.
As you can see, determining parentage in a suit to adjudicate parentage can be a tricky path to navigate. Stay tuned for part three of our journey through how parentage is established under Texas law, where we will further discuss situations involving adoption and assisted reproduction.