Establishing And Enforcing Parental Rights In Texas
An increasing number of child support and custody cases in Texas involve parents who were never married. Before a father can be ordered to pay child support or have custody or visitation rights, paternity (or parentage) must first be established. This can be done by agreement or by use of DNA testing.
At The Haston Law Firm, P.C., we represent both unmarried mothers and fathers in Houston, North Houston and throughout nearby communities. Let us help you with issues of paternity and matters involving your children, such as child support, retroactive child support, child custody and visitation.
Disestablishing paternity: Unfortunately, sometimes a husband may find that a child born to his wife during the marriage is not his child. Men in this situation can “disestablish paternity” if they are not the biological fathers of children born during marriage. However, if you are married and don’t disestablish paternity in the first four years of the child’s life, you are the legal father of that child and cannot disestablish paternity. This means that in the future, you could be ordered to pay child support and provide health insurance. Therefore, if you are concerned that this situation has happened to you, you should seek legal advice immediately.
Will I Have to Pay Retroactive Child Support?
If you have been found to be the father of a child, you may be ordered to pay retroactive child support. Whether or not the judge orders retroactive child support will largely depend on when you became aware that you were the father of the child:
- If the mother can show that you knew you were the father of the child, the chances of the court ordering retroactive child support are much higher.
- If the child was conceived during a one-night stand and you never knew that you were the father, the court will take that into account in determining if there should be retroactive child support.
Will I Receive Access And Custody Rights?
In all cases involving children, Texas law focuses on the best interests of the child. As much as possible, courts want children to have financial, physical and emotional support from both parents.
In determining a father’s access and possession rights, Texas courts will consider the past actions of the father. Did the father of a child have a history of visits that were cut off by the mother? If so, that fact will tip the scale in the father’s way. Was the father uninvolved in the child’s life even though he knew he was the father? That will tip the scales in favor of not providing access.