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How frequently paternity is established

Fathers in Texas and throughout the country of children born out of wedlock are more likely to claim the child as theirs when the mother is healthier, better off financially and better educated. The father is also slightly more likely to claim paternity when the child is a boy. These were the findings of a study that was published in the journal Human Nature that looked at 5.4 million births to unmarried women over a four-year period.

In 2013, just over 40 percent of births were to unmarried mothers. While fathers are automatically added to birth certificates if the parents are married, an unmarried father may need to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This makes it possible for child support to be enforced and also gives the father rights.

However, legal paternity is only established in just under 70 percent of births to unmarried mothers although for some of these children, paternity is established at a later date. The study also found that across all populations except among African-American families, first-born children were less likely to have paternity established than second-born children. It also found that with the exception of Asian families, paternity was less likely to be established with later-born children.

There may be a number of emotional, legal and logistical difficulties associated with establishing paternity. For example, a father might be resistant about taking a test to determine it, or a mother may be unsure about a child's paternity. A mother might resist a father's paternity claim because she does not wish to have further contact with the father. However, biological parents have a right to have access to their children unless there are extenuating circumstances such as abuse. Similarly, children have a right to see their biological parents and to receive financial support from those parents. Mothers or fathers who are dealing with these types of paternity issues might want to speak to an attorney about their situation.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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