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The Four Types of Fatherhood Under Texas Law, and a Father’s Responsibilities After Divorce

The birth of a baby can be the happiest event of your life but it also establishes a host of legal responsibilities for both parents. While identifying the biological mother is typically straightforward, ascertaining fatherhood in Texas can be somewhat confusing. As an experienced Houston divorce lawyer, I often help mothers make sure their children have the support they need — even when questions of paternity arise.

The Attorney General of Texas created a helpful online booklet, entitled Paternity Child Support and You, which defines the four types of fatherhood as follows:

  • Presumed fathers are typically the husbands of the mothers at the time of birth. Even if no longer married to the mother, men who are married to the mother during the 300 days before the birth or continuously live with the child during the first two years while claiming to be the father also qualify as presumed fathers, with full responsibilities of fatherhood.
  • Alleged fathers do not automatically have responsibilities for the child under the law just because someone alleges paternity. The person making the claim must provide proof before the court will give the alleged father any legal responsibilities for the child.
  • Biological fathers are related by blood to their children, yet Texas law says that they must establish paternity to maintain their legal rights. Of course, if a biological father is married to the mother and he does not dispute paternity, he typically has the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood unless disputes arise during divorce.
  • Legal fathers have been so classified by law whenever legal paternity is established, whether voluntarily, through a court order or by never denying fatherhood.

As soon as a man obtains the rights of fatherhood, at a minimum, he also has a responsibility to provide financial support for the children after divorce. If he tries to deny that responsibility, an experienced Texas divorce attorney can help the mother by establishing evidence of legal fatherhood based on the facts or, when necessary, through paternity testing.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

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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