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What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Parents and guardians in Texas may benefit from learning more about how the state handles paternity. The Texas Attorney General advises fathers to establish paternity, even if they are already providing support. Paternity may be established by the courts or voluntarily through the parents' mutual agreement. If parents can mutually agree, paternity can be established by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. The form serves as legal recognition for identifying a parent, and is then submitted to the Texas Vital Statistics Unit.

Establishing paternity enables unmarried parents to provide several benefits for children that may otherwise prove to be difficult. Establishing paternity may be advantageous if the noncustodial parent dies, becomes disabled or stops providing support. According to the Texas Attorney General, all children are entitled to receive financial support from both parents. Legally identifying both parents can help children receive better health care since it helps physicians access the full scope of their medical history.

Children may also gain rights to inheritance once paternity has been established. Paternity might help some children obtain benefits that include health insurance, life insurance, Social Security and veteran's benefits. The AOP form can be completed at a child support office or at the local birth registrar. Parents are not required to open a child support case if an AOP form is being signed at a child support office.

Parents who need more information regarding the parameters and rights guaranteed by establishing paternity may benefit from consulting a family law attorney. Legal counsel may be effective in explaining details relevant to particular situations, while preparing parents to complete the process. They may also be able to help negotiate other paternity issues, such as rights to custody or a visitation schedule.

Source: Attorney General of Texas, "Frequently Asked Questions", October 27, 2014

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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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