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Unmarried paternity in Texas

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2022 | Family Law |

For married parents, most parents assume that the husband is the presumed father. And, in Texas, that is normally the case. However, with unmarried parents’, League City, Texas, paternity is a bit more murky.

Unmarried parents

For fathers, the unfortunate truth is that, if you are unmarried, Texas law does not recognize you as a legal parent. State law does not even recognize you as the biological father automatically. This means that the default position for unmarried fathers here is that you have no legal rights to your child until your parentage is legally established.

Married presumed fathers

A presumed father has legal parental right. A Harris County man becomes the presumed father if they are married to the child’s mother when the child is born.

Unmarried presumed fathers

Even if the Galveston County parents have divorced by the time the child is born, you could still be the presumed father. If the father and mother were married during the 300 days prior to the child’s birth, the father’s parentage is legally presumed.

However, even if the unmarried father does not meet this 300-day requirement, they could become the presumed father after two years. Specifically, if the father continually lives with the child, presents the child as his own child and does both for the first 2 years of the child’s life, the father’s parentage is also legally presumed.

Legal classifications of fathers

There are three classifications of fathers in Texas. The first is the alleged father. This is the person who either alleges themselves or the mother alleges is the child’s father. However, until paternity is established, alleged fathers have no legal parental rights.

Similarly, the biological father does not necessarily have legal parent rights. Unless the biological father has established paternity or is the presumed father, he has no rights.

Finally, the legal father has parental rights, which has been established through paternity. This is done through the presumption described above, a court order or an Acknowledgment of Paternity.

Parental rights

As Brazoria County parents can see, paternity is not an easy matter. This is why many unmarried parents that have chosen not to marry while the mother was pregnant consult with a family law attorney. The attorney can help them navigate the family court system.