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Paternity Tests: When Do You Need One?

A showing of paternity establishes the identity of the father of a child and gives the child and father certain legal rights. In Texas, the father of a child has no rights or responsibilities with regard to a child unless there is an establishment of paternity. Mothers are presumed to be mothers at birth. But fathers do not receive the same presumption in the absence of being married.

In Texas, there are two ways to establish parentage of the father:

  • By signing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
  • By acquiring an order of the court

For an unmarried father to be legally entitled to rights such as custody and visitation, the father may need to go to court. Once a father is established as the parent of a child, the father has rights. But he also has a responsibility to support the child and pay for medical coverage. In addition, an unmarried father who wishes to avoid the adoption of a child by another party needs to act quickly to establish paternity.

When parents are married at the time of the birth of a child, the law assumes that the husband is the father of the child. Should a husband believe he is not the father, he can ask for paternity testing which can be used to exclude him as the father.

A knowledgeable family law attorney can guide you through the process of establishing paternity or challenging it.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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