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When paternity is in question

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Determining the paternity of a child sometimes starts with a  "he-said-she-said" scenario that eventually works its way to court. Whether it comes from determining that the father of a child should be paying child support, or a father trying to establish his rights to have a role in raising his child, there's a clear-cut, scientific way to figure out paternity.

If a man believes he's the father of a child and wants to determine that, he can start by signing up for the paternity registry in his state. In Texas, that's handled through the Department of State Health Services, starting with the man filling out this form

If a man has failed to timely sign up with the paternity registry, a DNA test, in which the father submits a sample and the mother arranges for her child to have a sample taken, is the one failsafe way to handle paternity questions.


The most expedient way to put that in motion, of course, is for all parties volunteering to take the tests and resolve the question on their own. But if that can't be done, it can be handled directly in one of two ways.


If either party wants to determine paternity conclusively through the courts, he or she can file a Motion for Genetic Testing. It's important to know that there's not an indefinite timeline for doing this--generally, this has to be filed within four years of the birth of the child (like many issues in the law, there are exceptions, but they are tough to achieve).


Presumptions of fatherhood based on marriage, though they're the norm, don't necessarily apply legally. When a child is born in Texas, the mother fills out paperwork in which the mother states who the father is, and though she has to state marital status as part of that, it's certainly possible that a woman's husband is not the father of her child.


Regardless of what you may believe about whether or not you are the father of a child, getting proof via a DNA test is necessary to prove it conclusively and to fully know your rights and obligations.


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