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Understanding paternity in Texas

Families in Texas might benefit from understanding more about potential paternity issues for many noncustodial parents. Unmarried parents may have paternity established by petitioning through court or signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. According to state law, paternity may not be established just because the father's name is included on the birth certificate. The attorney general advises parents to be aware of the potential ramifications that may result from signing any documents that could be considered to be legally binding.

Parents interested in protecting their legal rights are advised to open a child support case with the Office of the Attorney General. Afterwards, a court order will be filed to address medical support, child support, visitation and custody issues. Parents who are unable to make payments in full may still be able to stay in good standing by making partial payments. Anyone who loses their job or suffers a loss of income may qualify for a modification to an existing child support agreement.

Parents who are unable to pay child support may be liable for accrued interest each month it goes unpaid. Many people don't realize that a noncustodial parent can open a child support case. The base rate for child support in Texas is 20 percent of the noncustodial parent's net income and a subsequent 5 percent for each additional child. Even if the parent is unemployed, they may still be held liable for making child support payments.

People who need more information about paternity might benefit from enlisting the services of a family lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to review the circumstances and provide guidance that applies to a specific situation. Lawyers may also serve as effective intermediaries for parents who need assistance arranging various aspects of the parenting plan such as a visitation schedule.

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