In Texas,  issues arise when 2 people proceed to have a child without the protection of a marital relationship.   Under the Texas Family Code, Section 160.201, establishment of the Parent-Child Relationship, the mother-child relationship is established between a woman and a child by the woman giving birth to the child, an adjudication of the woman’s maternity, or the adoption of the child by the woman.

What about the establishment of the Parent-Child Relationship between a father and the child.  The father-child relationship is established between the father and the child by an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under Section 160.204 of the Texas Family Code.  Secondly, an effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man under Subchapter D, unless the acknowledgement has been rescinded or successfully challenged.  Thirdly, an adjudication of the man’s paternity by a Texas Court.  Or, lastly by the adoption of the child by the man.   In some occasions, it may be established by the man consenting to assisted reproduction by his wife under Subchapter H, which results in the birth of a child.

What if I am not married to the mother?  Under the Texas Family Code, Section 160.202, No Discrimination based on Marital Status, a child born to parents who are not married to each other has the same rights under the law as a child born to parents who are married to each other.

Unless the parental rights are terminated, a parent-child relationship is established under Chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code and applies for all purposes, except as otherwise provided by another law of the State of Texas.  As otherwise provided by other law of this state is generally necessary because other statutes may restrict rights of a parent.   For example, PUC (1983) Section 2-114(c) precludes a parent of a child (and the parent’s family) from inheriting from the child by intestate succession “unless that natural parent has openly treated the child as his or hers and has not refused to support the child.

What is the presumption of paternity?   Under Section 160.204 of the Texas Family Code, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he is married to the mother of the child and the child is born during the marriage.  If the man is married to the mother of the child and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the mar5riage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce. Or, the man married the mother of the child before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.  Or, the man married the mother of the child after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with law, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, be voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and, the assertion is in a record filed with the vital statistics unit, the man voluntarily named himself as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or the man promised in a record  to support the child as his own, or during the first 2 years of the child’s life, he continuously resided in the household in which the child resided and he represented to other that the child was his own.

A presumption of paternity established under Section 160.204 of the Texas Family Code may be rebutted only by an adjudication under Subchapter G, or by the filing of a valid denial of paternity by a presumed father in conjunction with the filing by another person of a valid acknowledgment of paternity as provided by Section 160.305.

As a general rule,  we always advise our clients to pursue a paternity test as quickly as possible after consulting with our office when the child is born outside a marital relationship.  Certain time restraints may affect a person’s right ability to contest paternity of a child alleged to be of another man.  Always seek legal advise and representation when faced with a paternity issue outside of marriage.