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Establishing or terminating paternity

Fathers interested in establishing paternity status in the state of Texas may have to pursue legal action to do so. The same is true of those wishing to terminate their parental status. Here is a brief overview of the key points of each process.

Before beginning the discussion, it is important to note that paternity is rarely the final step in any family law process. In the case that a court awards paternity status, the new parent often pursues procedures for various other legal rights, such as custody and visitation. The suits resulting in the dissolution of a legal parent-child relationship also often lead to subsequent procedures.

According to the FindLaw section on paternity in the state, individuals may bring suit at any time when attempting to establish paternity of a child without a presumed father. This unlimited window for filings contrasts with the laws in many other jurisdictions. The court only accepts suits until the child is four years old if there is a presumed father. Exceptions to this rule exist, and the court might consider a paternity suit filed after the four-year period under the following conditions:

  • There is significant reason to doubt that the presumed father is the biological father
  • Someone misled the presumed father into accepting paternity

Suits ending in a court ruling are only necessary when the parents are unable to reach an agreement by other means, such as settlement out of court or simply an admission of paternity. Voluntary admission of paternity in Texas requires little more than filling out a form.

The Texas State Law Library, in an online research guide, states that the process of ending parental rights can be both voluntary and involuntary. In this way, the process of termination is similar to that of establishing rights.

The Texas State Law Library resource center also contains valuable insights into the circumstances and details surrounding the termination of paternity. Reviewing these could provide a glimpse into the dispositions the courts might have towards any current suits.

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