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The importance of establishing and acknowledging paternity

Some unmarried parents in Texas may not believe that establishing paternity is very important when a child is born, but doing so provides several advantages for both parents and for the child. Establishing paternity means that the biological father of a child born to a single mother becomes acknowledged as the child's legal father. The establishment of paternity secures the child's legal rights. This might mean that the child is eligible for Social Security and other government benefits. With access to the medical histories of both parents, physicians better understand how to treat the child if the child inherits a disorder or a disease. Having a legal father could also provide the child with health care benefits under the father's policy.

The acknowledgement of paternity also means that the father secures his rights as a parent. This means that he could seek child custody or visitation arrangements to participate in the care of and spend time with his child. On the other hand, the mother could seek child support from the father as well.

The best time for establishing paternity is when the child is born. At this time, both parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which puts the father's name on the birth certificate. Texas hospitals have this form on hand, and the hospitals take care of filing the form with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. While this is the most convenient time for the parents to acknowledge paternity, it also provides early security for the child's future.

In the event that a mother is not sure who the biological father of her child is, or if the biological father does not want to take responsibility, the mother has the right to take legal action to establish paternity. She could talk to a lawyer about the process of petitioning the court to order a paternity test.

Source: Attorney General of Texas, "Establishing Paternity", October 28, 2014

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