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Being unwed affects paternity in Texas

When a child is born in Texas, paternity isn't automatically established unless the mother and father are married at the time of the child's birth. The attorney general wants unmarried couples who are expecting a baby to know that establishing paternity is something that is best done properly to possibly avoid a potential family law dispute in the future.

One of the ways to establish paternity when the child's parents aren't married is for the father to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This form is usually signed at the hospital when the baby is born. A man who wants his name on a child's birth certificate is required by law to sign this form before his name is put on the birth certificate if he isn't married to the baby's mother.

Fathers should be certain, however, that they are the baby's father before signing the form because the form is a legal finding of paternity that comes with responsibilities. If there are questions about the paternity of the baby, paternity testing might be warranted. In that case, not signing the AOP at the hospital is the right course of action. The Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division might be able to help unwed parents to establish paternity, which might include free paternity testing.

Anyone who is having a baby should be aware of the benefits of establishing paternity at the time of the baby's birth. Not only will the father's name be on the birth certificate, which is important to many children, but it also means the child might be eligible for certain benefits. These benefits can include health insurance, child support, veteran's survivor benefits and Social Security.

If the parents aren't together, having this paternity acknowledged might help the father as he goes through the family law process to get child custody, visitation and other rights regarding his child. It can also help when it comes time for a court to decide on child support.

Knowing about the rights and responsibilities that come along with establishing paternity is vital for anyone going through this type of situation.

Source:, "Establishing Paternity at Birth Gives Children a Good Start in Life" No author given, May. 17, 2014

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