What if I get pregnant during a divorce case and my spouse is not the biological father?
The first bit of advice we provide our clients is that he or she may not be able to finalize the divorce until the child is born and there is an execution of an Acknowledgement of Paternity.
What is an Acknowledgment of Paternity?
The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity.
An acknowledgment of paternity must:
(1) be in a record;
(2) be signed, or otherwise authenticated, under penalty of perjury by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity;
(3) state that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged does not have a presumed father or has a presumed father whose full name is stated; and does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated father;
(4) state whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the acknowledging man’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the testing; and
(5) state that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of the paternity of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances.
An acknowledgment of paternity is void if it:
(1) states that another man is a presumed father of the child, unless a denial of paternity signed or otherwise authenticated by the presumed father is filed with the vital statistics unit;
(2) states that another man is an acknowledged or adjudicated father of the child; or
(3) falsely denies the existence of a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father of the child. A presumed father may sign or otherwise authenticate an acknowledgment of paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity constitutes an affidavit under Section 666(a)(5)(C), Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 666(a)(5)(C)).
In re J.A.C., No. 02-15-00554-CV, 2016 WL 3854215 (Tex. App.—Dallas July 13, 2016, no pet.) (mem. op.). Fourteen-year-old twins sought to terminate the parent-child relationship with their acknowledged and adjudicated father. The appellate court held that the father’s signing of the children’s birth certificates did not satisfy the requirements of an acknowledgment of paternity under Family Code chapter 160, subchapter D.
What is I want to Deny the Paternity of a child?
A presumed father of a child may sign a denial of his paternity. The denial is valid only if:
(1) an acknowledgment of paternity signed or otherwise authenticated by another man is filed under Section 160.305 of the Texas Family Code;
(2) the denial is in a record and is signed or otherwise authenticated under penalty of perjury; and
(3) the presumed father has not previously acknowledged paternity of the child, unless the previous acknowledgment has been rescinded under Section 160.307 or successfully challenged under Section 160.308 of the Texas Family Code; or been adjudicated to be the father of the child.
An acknowledgment of paternity and a denial of paternity may be contained in a single document or in different documents and may be filed separately or simultaneously. If the acknowledgment and denial are both necessary, neither document is valid until both documents are filed.
An acknowledgment of paternity or a denial of paternity may be signed before the birth of the child.
An acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity takes effect on the date of the birth of the child or the filing of the document with the vital statistics unit, whichever occurs later.
An acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity signed by a minor is valid if it otherwise complies with this chapter.
What is the effect of an Acknowledgment or Denial of Paternity?
A valid acknowledgment of paternity filed with the vital statistics unit is the equivalent of an adjudication of the paternity of a child and confers on the acknowledged father all rights and duties of a parent.
A valid denial of paternity filed with the vital statistics unit in conjunction with a valid acknowledgment of paternity is the equivalent of an adjudication of the nonpaternity of the presumed father and discharges the presumed father from all rights and duties of a parent.
Is there a cost or fee for filing an Acknowledgement or Denial of Paternity?
The Department of State Health Services may not charge a fee for filing:
(1) an acknowledgment of paternity;
(2) a denial of paternity; or
(3) a rescission of an acknowledgment of paternity or denial of paternity.
Should I tell my attorney if I get pregnant during the course of a Divorce?
Yes! We have had countless cases where the woman in a pending divorce action becomes pregnant either with the spouse or another person. The consequences are substantial since the Court will not finalize a divorce until the child is born and the parties execute an acknowledgement of paternity or a denial of paternity and file it with the vital statistics unit of the State of Texas.