Child support cases in Texas often require the establishment of paternity as a preliminary matter. Paternity suits are typically filed by mothers or government agencies seeking support orders or by men seeking to establish custody or visitation rights. The requirements for establishing paternity are similar in nearly all states, but there are a few variations in Texas that may affect the process.
A paternity suit is a lawsuit filed to establish the identity of a child's biological father. If paternity is disputed, the court may order blood tests. Depending on the test results, the court will either dismiss the case or make a positive finding as to parentage. In the latter situation, custody and child support proceedings may begin.
In Texas, if the mother was married when the child was born, her husband is presumed to be the child's father. A paternity suit may be filed at any time, even after the child has reached adulthood, except where the child has a presumed father, in which case the suit must be brought within four years of the birth of the child. Even if the four-year period has expired, though, a suit may be filed if the presumed father was misled as to paternity or did not live with or have a sexual relationship with the mother around the time of conception.
In a case where a mother is seeking child support and the purported father denies paternity, a family law attorney may be able to assist with the drafting and filing of a lawsuit to determine parentage. Once paternity has been established, the parties may attempt to agree on the terms of child support or submit the matter to the court. An attorney may be of assistance at this stage as well, by attempting to negotiate a child support arrangement that complies with Texas guidelines or by arguing in court on behalf of the client.
Source: Findlaw, "Texas Paternity Suits", September 08, 2014