DNA testing

Fathers Have Rights – Establishing Paternity

Paternity is defined as the quality or state of being a father.  Many issues arise in the face of a father being denied access to his child or wondering if he is truly the child’s father.  Where paternity of a child is in question, a mother or alleged father may ask the court to determine paternity of one or several possible fathers. 

Most paternity actions involve a child born out of wedlock.  However, paternity actions also occur between married persons where someone other than the husband is the father of the child, or where the husband has fathered a child outside of the marriage.  There is a presumption that a child born to a married woman is the child of the husband.  However, this presumption can be overcome by DNA or other valid evidence. 

If you are questioning paternity, think about when the child could have been conceived.  Consider when you had relevant or timely intercourse.  Understand that paternity is determined by testing DNA from the father and the mother through the use of genetic fingerprinting.  DNA testing is done by drawing blood or by taking a buccal swab, when cells are wiped from the inside of the mouth with a cotton swab.  These tests can determine the father of a child with up to 99% accuracy.  DNA testing is currently the most advanced and accurate technology to determine parentage.  Generally paternity testing is paid for by the father.

If you file a paternity suit, you can request the court order DNA testing.  A court may order the mother, father and the child to submit to testing.  Paternity testing can be done during pregnancy or when the child is as young as one day old. 

Paternity proceedings can be filed by the alleged father, mother, child or child support division of a state.  A private action for paternity is usually prosecuted to secure child support payments from the father, parenting time with the child, and/or fair rights and privilege allocation. 

Some men are confident that they are the biological father and wish to maintain a legal relationship with the child whether or not they are the father and thus either initiate paternity actions or consent to the entry of a paternity order.  The paternity order entitles the father to visitation time with the child and creates a legal duty for the father to provide for the support of the child in addition to awarding him rights and privileges regarding the child’s future development.

When you consent to the entry of a paternity order, absent fraud, you consent for life.  Most jurisdictions will not allow you to escape the consequences of that order, including the requirement of payment for the support of the child.  If there is a chance that you will resent the child, or wish to break off the relationship with the child or, if you ultimately learn that you are not the child’s biological father, make certain you obtain a DNA test before legally admitting and therefore confirming that you are a child’s father. 

Custody of a child can either be awarded to the father or the mother in a paternity action depending on the facts.  Child support in a paternity action is generally set according to state law standards unless the parties sign an agreement providing for the payment of child support that is approved by the court. 

Reasons to establish paternity:  to provide the child with a needed identity; to confirm rights, privileges and duties of a parent; to know the health history of both the mother and father for medical care and treatment of a child; establish financial support for the child; establish health insurance coverage, social security eligibility, inheritance and other benefits; and seek public assistance where qualified.

By Nacol Law Firm | Paternity
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Paternity Defined – Texas Family Code

Under the Texas Family Code (Tex. Fam. Code) a “Parent” is defined as the mother, a man presumed to be the father, a man legally determined to be the father, a man who has been adjudicated to be the father by a court of competent jurisdiction, a man who acknowledged his paternity under applicable law, or an adoptive mother or father. 

The father-child relationship is established between a man and a child by:

  1. an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Section 160.204;
  2. an effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under Subchapter D, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged;
  3. an adjudication of the man’s paternity;
  4. the adoption of the child by the man; or
  5. the man’s consenting to assisted reproduction by his wife under Subchapter H, which resulted in the birth of a child.

Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 160, otherwise known as the Uniform Parentage Act, states that a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  1. he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage;
  2. he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
  3. he married the mother of the child before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
  4. he married the mother of the child after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:
    a)     the assertion is in a record filed with the bureau of vital statistics;
    b)    he is voluntarily named as the child’s father; or
    c)     he promised in a record to support the child as his own; or
  5. during the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to others that the child was his own.

A presumption of paternity established under this section may be rebutted only by:

  1. an adjudication under Subchapter G; or
  2. the filing of a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father in conjunction with the filing by another person of a valid acknowledgment of paternity.

A presumed father of a child may sign a denial of paternity.  However, the denial is valid only if:

  1. an acknowledgment of paternity signed or otherwise authenticated by another man is filed under Section 160.305 of the Texas Family Code;
  2. the denial is in a record and is signed or otherwise authenticated under penalty of perjury; and
  3. the presumed father has not previously:
    a)     acknowledged paternity of the child, unless the previous acknowledgment has been rescinded under Section 160.307 of the Texas Family Code or successfully challenged under Section 160.308 of the Texas Family Code; or
    b)    been adjudicated to be the father of the child.

The rules for adjudication of paternity are as follows: 

  1. The paternity of a child having a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father may be disproved only by admissible results of genetic testing excluding that man as the father of the child or identifying another man as the father of the child.
  2. Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, the man identified as the father of a child under section 160.505 shall be adjudicated as being the father of the child. 
  3. Unless the results of genetic testing are admitted to rebut other results of genetic testing, the a man excluded as the father of a child by genetic testing shall be adjudicated as not being the father of the child. 
  4. If the court finds that genetic testing under Section 160.505 does not identify or exclude a man as the father of a child, the court may not dismiss the proceeding.  In that event, the results of genetic testing and other evidence are admissible to adjudicate the issue of paternity.

Under Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 160.608, if there is an established relationship between the presumed father and the child, the court may deny genetic testing and adjudicate the presumed father as the father of the child. 

In In re Shockley, 123 S.W.3d 642, 652-53 (Tex. App.–El Paso 2003, no pet.) the court ruled a mother was equitably estopped from litigating a child’s parentage due to the fact that she refused to consent to DNA testing in prior years and brought suit for parentage more than four years after the birth of a child to question the parentage of the father.  The mother then consented to DNA testing that showed another man to be the father of the child, but the court refused to recognize the DNA tests and her claim was barred.

By Nacol Law Firm | Paternity
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Please contact father’s rights Dallas Attorney Mark Nacol, or father’s rights Dallas Attorney Julian Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm P.C., for legal insight to your rights as a father. Both attorney Mark Nacol, and attorney Julian Nacol , provide counsel in the area of family law including divorce, father’s rights, interstate jurisdiction, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, parent alienation, modifications, property division, asset division and more. Attorney Mark A. Nacol is board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our attorneys at The Nacol Law Firm P.C. serve clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Prosper, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.

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