If you have ever wondered how paternity is established under Texas law, here are a few key points to remember. First, there are five ways in which a father-child relationship can be established:
- (1) an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity;
- (2) an acknowledgment of paternity;
- (3) an adjudication of paternity;
- (4) adoption; and
- (5) the man consents to assisted reproduction by his wife resulting in the birth of the child.
Now, what does it take to be considered a “presumed father” under Texas law, and how can that presumption be rebutted? Well, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:
- (1) he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage;
- (2) he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
- (3) he married the mother of the child before the birth of the child, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
- (4) he married the mother of the child after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and the assertion is in a record filed with the bureau of vital statistics, he is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or he promised in a record to support the child as his own; or
- (5) during the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to others that the child was his own.
If the circumstances of you or someone you know fall under one of the five scenarios listed above, then the child at issue will be considered to have a presumed father unless that presumption is successfully rebutted. The presumption of paternity may only be rebutted by (1) a proceeding to adjudicate paternity, or (2) the filing of a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father in conjunction with the filing by another person of a valid acknowledgement of paternity.
Speaking of acknowledgments of paternity, Texas law provides that the mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgement of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity. However, both potential moms and dads alike need to be aware of the rules surrounding these acknowledgments. Under Texas law, there are four rules governing the validity of acknowledgments of paternity:
- (1) an acknowledgement of paternity and a denial of paternity may be contained in a single document or in different documents and may be filed separately or simultaneously—if the acknowledgement and denial are both necessary, neither document is valid until both documents are filed;
- (2) an acknowledgement of paternity or a denial of paternity may be signed before the birth of the child;
- (3) subject to the first rule, an acknowledgement of paternity or denial of paternity takes effect on the date of birth of the child or the filing of the document with the bureau of vital statistics, whichever occurs later; and
- (4) an acknowledgement of paternity or denial of paternity signed by a minor is valid if it otherwise complies with this chapter.
These are two of the five ways one can establish paternity in Texas. Stay tuned for part two of this post to hear about an additional way in which parentage can be established under Texas law.