If you have doubts regarding who is a child’s biological father, then getting a court order for establishing paternity can be critical. This is true whether you believe you are the father of a child or you are a child’s mother and want to legally identify the father.
However, before you do this, there are some things to consider first.
Establishing paternity has an effect on the child
Depending on the age of the child and his or her relationship with a biological father and/or presumed father, a paternity lawsuit can have a considerable impact on the child. Children in this situation might be confused and feel betrayed or lied to; they might also feel that knowing the identity of their biological father will provide a sense of wholeness.
As such, it can be important for everyone to consider how a paternity suit could affect a child and whether or not the action is in the child’s best interests.
You may not need to secure a court order
In Texas, parents who agree on parentage do not need to secure a court order to establish paternity. They can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form voluntarily. Additionally, if a man is married to the mother at the time a child is born, he is already presumed to be the biological father.
There could be a clock ticking
If a child has no presumed father, then there is no time limit on when someone can file a paternity suit. However, if a child does have a presumed father, then a person has only four years from the day a child is born to bring a paternity suit. Though, as this FindLaw article notes, there are exceptions.
Taking steps to establish paternity is not something individuals should take lightly. It will affect people’s legal rights and obligations, not to mention familial relationships. As such, it is vital to take these cases seriously. Discussing your case with an attorney can help you understand your options.