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When Can Paternity Be Challenged in Texas?

 Posted on April 12, 2023 in Family Law

San Antonio Paternity Lawyer

Establishing paternity can be crucial for both parents and children. A child has the right to know their biological father and get the love and support they deserve. On the other hand, the alleged father has the right to know if he is indeed the biological father and to take responsibility if he is. However, there are situations involving mistaken paternity where a man may be identified as a child's father when someone else is the child's actual biological parent. In these situations, it may be possible to challenge a presumption of paternity, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, or a denial of paternity by another party. If you are an alleged father in Texas, it is important to know how these issues may be handled.

Presumption of Paternity

Texas law states that a man is presumed to be a child's father if he was married to the child's mother and the child was born during the marriage. A presumption of paternity will also exist if a man was formerly married to the mother, and the child was born before the 301st day after the marriage ended. If a couple got married after a child was born, and the husband was named on the child's birth certificate or agreed to support the child, paternity may be presumed. Finally, paternity will be presumed if a man lived in the same home as a child from when the child was born until they reached the age of two and represented himself as the child's father to other people.

Challenging Paternity

If a man is not a child's presumed father, he may be named as the legal father by signing an acknowledgment of paternity. On the other hand, if a man is a presumed father but believes he is not the child's actual biological father, he may sign a denial of paternity. This document must be accompanied by an acknowledgment of paternity by the child's biological father.

Before signing an acknowledgment of paternity, parents should be certain that a man is the child's biological father. If there is any doubt, DNA testing may be performed to verify the parent/child relationship. If an acknowledgment of paternity was signed, and a person learns that they are not the child's biological father, they can submit a rescission of the acknowledgment of paternity. This document must be submitted within 60 days after the acknowledgment of paternity was submitted.

After the deadline for rescission, it may still be possible to challenge paternity, although these challenges can only be based on acknowledgments of paternity that were made due to fraud, duress, or factual errors. That is if a father was threatened or pressured into signing an acknowledgment of paternity, if he was deceived into thinking he was a child's father, or if he and the mother mistakenly believed that he was the father, paternity may be challenged. The person making the challenge has the burden of proof showing that an acknowledged father is not the child's biological father.

If a child has a presumed father, and no denial of paternity was submitted, proceedings to challenge paternity may be initiated before the child's fourth birthday. It may also be possible to challenge paternity after this deadline if the mother and presumed father were not living together and did not engage in sexual intercourse around the time of the child's conception or if the presumed father missed the deadline to challenge paternity because he was under the mistaken belief that he was the child's biological father.

Consequences of Challenging Paternity

In many cases, challenges to paternity occur when a person is ordered to pay child support for a child based on the belief that he is the child's biological father. If paternity is challenged, and a court determines that the man is not the child's father, he will no longer have any obligation to pay child support. However, this will also mean that he will not be considered the legal father of the child, and he will no longer have any child custody or visitation rights or the right to be involved in the child's life.

Contact Our San Antonio Paternity Lawyer

Establishing paternity can be important for both a child and their father. However, it is also important to know when and how paternity can be challenged in Texas. If you are unsure about whether you are the biological father of a child, you may need to act quickly to protect your rights and interests. At Brandon Wong & Associates, we can help address issues related to paternity, including assisting with establishing legal parentage or challenging presumed or acknowledged paternity. Contact our Bexar County paternity attorney at 210-201-3832 to set up a consultation at our firm.


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