To establish paternity, a father will sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. In some cases, both parents agree on their child's biological father, and the father voluntarily identifies himself.
If there is a disagreement in terms of paternity, the court may order DNA testing. If the paternity test is court-ordered, neither the mother nor the presumed father can refuse to test.
Is It Illegal to Refuse a Court-Ordered Paternity Test?
Yes, it is illegal. Neither parent can refuse to submit to a paternity test. The mother must supply a sample of the child’s DNA, and the father must supply his own. If anyone refuses to submit to court orders, they can be held in contempt of court, a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.
Why Parents Establish Paternity
A child’s paternity must be established in Texas before child support cases can proceed. Parents entangled in child support cases may ask the other party or be ordered by the court to complete a paternity test. Outside of helping in child support cases, establishing paternity can also help:
- Ensure the child has a relationship with both parents
- Inform the child and their parents of their family medical history
- Children gain access to insurance benefits or inheritance
- Mothers share parenting responsibilities (outside of finances)
- Fathers gain legal parental rights
If a mother was married when her child was born, her husband is believed to be the father. On the other hand, unmarried couples must legally establish paternity. To understand the establishment of parent-child relationships in Texas, you can review Texas Family Code § 160. You should also speak with our attorneys.
Why You Need a Paternity Lawyer
If you are involved in a paternity lawsuit, retaining legal representation is in your best interest. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and options. In paternity cases, legal counsel also helps their clients:
- File the necessary paperwork
- Understand their legal obligations (like adhering to court-ordered testing)
- Remind them of upcoming court appearances
- Advise them with regard to court etiquette
- Navigate the legalities associated with the court determinations
- And more