Issues surrounding family law can be very personal and require very specific care and specificity depending on the topic at hand, especially when it comes to child custody. Determining paternity, especially as a father, is the ultimate way to secure custody of your child. Regardless of current custody agreements, if paternity is established, you have the right to legally claim and care for your child in a joint-custody agreement. For premier paternity testing and litigation in the Granbury area, look no further than the Law Firm of William A. Walsh.
Paternity is traditionally a DNA test used to link a father to his children, proving that both are biological relatives. Traditionally done in a legal setting, these tests can be used for a variety of different legal matters, helping to establish a crucial link between a parent and a child. If disputes over who is the actual father of a child come up between partners, paternity testing can be used to either confirm or deny accusations made by either party.
In Texas, there are four different degrees of paternity, all related to the relationship between the mother and the father of the child. These degrees include:
- Presumed Paternity: For married couples, the father of the child is assumed to be the husband of the couple, and paternity is established on the basis of the marriage.
- Acknowledged Paternity: For non-married couples, the father of the child can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, for example, a birth certificate that legally links him to the child in question. On some levels, this acknowledgment of paternity can be more binding or secure than the presumed paternity provided by marriage, with the inclusion of a signed legal document as the basis of this paternity.
- Adjudicated Paternity: In a court of law, paternity can be determined and legally stated by the court, formally granting legal rights to the father of the child. These decisions are typically reliant on paternity testing.
- Alleged Paternity: For unmarried couples or instances where a brief encounter results in a child, the father of the child is not certain. Whoever is named by the mother as the father creates a situation of alleged paternity.
When in the process of determining paternity, especially in situations where the father is unknown or only alleged to be the father, paternity testing can be used to clear up any disagreements or accusations that could turn out to be untrue. The main methods of paternity testing include:
- Testing While Pregnant: In some instances, paternity testing can be done on a child that is still in the womb. Using either chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, DNA can be taken from the fetus and collected and compared to DNA samples from the father. Although somewhat invasive, these tests are highly accurate and can help establish paternity sooner than post-birth testing.
- Cheek Swabs: Using samples of buccal cells collected from the cheeks of both the father and the child, similar DNA structures can be found as a means of establishing paternity. This is the most common form of paternity testing and the least invasive, helping cause as little stress to the child and father as possible.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests use blood samples provided by both the father and child to look for common DNA structures. Because of the prevalence and ease of cheek swabs, blood testing is not as commonly used today; however, in instances where the results from a cheek swab test are disputed or unclear, blood testing can be used as a backup form of screening.
When it comes to paternity testing, child custody is the number one issue that causes parents to seek paternity testing. For unmarried couples in Texas with a child born outside of wedlock, no legal father can be established until a paternity test is taken. If paternity is alleged or acknowledged by both parental parties voluntarily, an Acknowledgement of Paternity can be signed by the father of the child, establishing a legal basis of paternity. For stepparents looking to adopt their stepchildren, once paternity is established between a father and his child, he can legally relinquish his parental rights over the child, allowing the stepparent to go forward with the adoption process.
Although child custody battles are a primary source of paternity testing cases, other legal disputes between couples and next of kin can require paternity testing. By establishing a firm link between a father and child, these legal disputes can be handled with ease. Beyond child custody, paternity testing can be used for:
- Child support: Especially for unmarried, separated, or divorced couples, paternity testing can be used to determine a biological link between a father and a child. By having a legally recognized link to a child, mothers can be sure that the fathers of their children properly support and provide aid to their child. On the flip side of this agreement, if a child is placed into the custody of the father after a legally established paternal link, this agreement can help aid in the development of child support payment plans for non-married couples.
- Claiming inheritance: When it comes to estate negotiation, making sure that members of the family are involved in legal proceedings and negotiations about inheritance is extremely important. From distant relatives to the possibility of other children, being able to submit a paternity test, including testing between living and established next of kin, to see if any biological links between these supposed family members exist, is an extremely important part of the estate negotiation process.
At the Law Firm of William A. Walsh, we offer a committed team of legal experts to help settle your paternity case. Whether it be for child custody or peace of mind, determining your parental rights over your child is a serious matter, and as a father, you have the right to be part of your child’s life. For legal support for paternity establishing services in the Granbury area, you can trust The Law Firm of William A. Walsh. For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.