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Photo of Attorney Pruitt seated on a tall stool

Seizing The Reins Of Legal Fatherhood

Many men naturally want to play a role in the lives of their children, but some are unable to do so because they lack legal status as a parent. In Texas, parentage (commonly known as paternity) is the process by which fathers can establish their legal rights concerning custody, visitation and other important elements of the parent-child relationship.

Attorney Kathryn Lanigan Pruitt and her team at Pruitt Law Group, PLLC, are strong advocates for fathers in Frisco and throughout the surrounding areas in Texas. The firm’s clients have included men who received unfair results in prior custody proceedings, men who are being alienated from their children by the other parent, and men who are otherwise having their role as a father minimized. Pruitt Law Group, PLLC, is committed to helping fathers harness the full rights and responsibilities of fatherhood in Texas.

How Is Paternity Established?

Establishing legal fatherhood is extremely important. Legal fatherhood is required for children to be eligible for child support and other benefits that may be available through their father, such as Social Security, veteran’s survivor benefits and health insurance. Legal paternity also provides a father with parental rights should he and the mother end their relationship.

Under Texas law, there are six ways the father-child relationship may be established:

  • Father by presumed paternity
  • Father by acknowledged paternity
  • Father by adjudicated paternity
  • Father by consent to assisted reproduction
  • Father by adoption
  • Father by gestational agreement

A man is the “presumed father” of a child in Texas under any of the following circumstances:

  • he was married to the child’s mother when the child was born
  • he was married to the child’s mother any time during the 300 days before the child was born
  • he married the mother after the child was born and voluntarily claimed paternity of the child with the Vital Statistics Unit, on the child’s birth certificate, or in a record in which he promised to support the child as his own
  • during the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously lived with the child and represented to others that the child was his own

If you are the presumed father of a child and you do not believe that you are that child’s biological father, it is urgent that you consult with an experience family law attorney so that you can take effective legal action to rebut the presumption.

If you are not married to the mother of your child, do not assume that you can protect your parental rights by signing your child’s birth certificate. It is a common misconception that paternity in Texas can be established by putting an alleged father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. This is not the law in Texas. In Texas, a man who is not married to the child’s mother must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) before his name can be included on the child’s birth certificate. Because the AOP becomes a legal finding of paternity when it is filed with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit, it is very important that a man who believes he is the father of a child consult with an experienced child custody attorney to understand the full legal implications of signing an AOP.

If you have signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) and you feel that you signed it based on misrepresentations, it is urgent that you contact a qualified family law attorney immediately to discuss rescinding the AOP.

Whether your paternity case is contested or uncontested, these cases are often emotionally charged and every case has financial implications lasting several years. It is extremely important to obtain compassionate, competent legal representation so your rights are protected.

Take Action Today

By establishing paternity, you can achieve many important goals, like helping your child qualify for certain benefits, providing them with important information concerning hereditary diseases and giving them a positive role model. To arrange a legal consultation with an experienced paternity lawyer in Frisco, contact Pruitt Law Group, PLLC, today online or by telephone at 469-888-8829.