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Understanding how a paternity suit works

Texas parents may want to know more about paternity suits and how they work. A paternity suit is used to legally determine a biological parent. Paternity suits may be brought by a parent wanting to maintain a relationship with a child or by a parent seeking child support. They arise when there is a disagreement about who a child's biological parents are or when one parent will not cooperate in making that determination.

Paternity suits are usually brought by a child's mother or a man claiming to be the child's father. They can also be brought by a government agency or a representative of the child. With certain exceptions, a paternity suit may only be filed in Texas during the first four years of a child's life if the child has a presumed father. If there is no presumed father, a suit can be brought at any time, even after the child has become an adult.

When a suit is filed, the court will order blood tests if there is no acknowledgement of paternity. The court will also decide who pays for the tests. Once the test results have been received, the court will make a paternity determination, after which it will address related issues such as child support and visitation. The court will also make a determination as to what last name is given to the child.

It is usually better to settle paternity issues outside of the courtroom instead of leaving decisions to the court. This can often be accomplished through the use of mediation. Since a court will have to approve a settlement, a parent who wants to settle paternity issues may want to consider being represented by an attorney who has experience in family law.

Source: Findlaw, "Texas Paternity Suits", September 08, 2014

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