Law Office of Jason A. Nordsell
Law Office of Jason A. Nordsell


Mothers' Issues

Establish Paternity with Genetic Testing

Over half of children in Texas are born to single parent households.  Under Texas law, a child born to a man and woman who are not married has no legal father. There is a difference between a biological father and a legal father.  Courts cannot order a man to pay child support until paternity is established and he is declared a legal father.


Isn't an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) Just as Good? 

An Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) to establish legal fatherhood helps to secure the legal rights of the child.  The AOP has the same legal force and effect as a judicial finding of paternity.  It can be subject to attack, however, if it is not accompanied by genetic testing.  If the acknowledged father later suspects he may not be the biological father, an expensive lawsuit may be required to establish that he is.  If a DNA test is done in the beginning, alot of time, expense and instability (from the child's perspective) can be avoided.

Fathers' Issues

Verify Paternity with DNA before Legally Obligating Yourself to a Child

Educated estimates put infidelity in relationships at 30-50% for women and 50-80% for men.  David P. Barash, Judith Eve Lipton, The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, 2001. Further, studies analyzing paternity through genetics estimate that between .8% and 30% (median of 3.7%) of fathers mistakenly believe that the children they are raising and paying for are biologically theirs.  The higher-risk categories are young adults, low income/status, and unmarried relationships.  Finally, of men who suspected fraudulent paternity and were subsequently tested, the number rises to almost 30%.  Source: "Measuring paternal discrepancy and its public health consequences," Journal of Epidemiliogy and Community Health, 2005.  Mark A Bellis, Karen Hughes, Sara Hughes, John R Ashton. Study available at  Given the accuracy of DNA tests, contesting this type of evidence in court is prohibited unless an identical test shows contradicting results.


Legally Establishing the Father-Child Relationship

Under Texas law, a child born to a man and woman who are not married has no legal father. There is a difference between a biological father and a legal father.  Being a legal father comes with the rights and duties of a parent under Texas law, including custody and support.  The father-child relationship is established by:

  • An unrebutted presumption of paternity
    • Presumptions are created by being the husband of the mother, or residing in the same household with the child and holding it out as his own, etc.;
  • an effective acknowledgement of paternity by the man;
    • Signing your name on a birth certificate does not create a presumption of paternity and is not an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP).  An AOP must be signed under oath (not just in front of a notary) by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.  An AOP has the same legal force and effect as a judicial finding of paternity.  In contrast, signing your name on a birth certificate is relevant evidence only if the man later marries or attempts to marry the mother.  That said, it doesn't make sense to sign the birth certificate until after genetic tests confirm you are the father.
  • an adjudication of paternity;
    • Adjudication of paternity is done by a court during, e.g., a divorce proceeding, a petition by the mother or Office of the Attorney General (OAG), etc.  If the child is born to a single mother and there is no legally presumed father, a suit can be brought to adjudicate paternity at any time, even after the child becomes an adult;
  • the adoption of the child; or
  • the man consenting to assisted reproduction by his wife.


Wrongful Paternity 

A typical scenario is one where a woman in a relationship or marriage has a child and she tells the man, or he simply assumes, that he is the father, and so no genetic testing is done and he is presumed the father or signs an AOP.  Child support is later ordered in a proceeding establishing paternity (e.g., by the mother or the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), or in a divorce proceeding, etc.).  The man later learns facts that lead him to believe the child is not his, and DNA tests confirm his suspicions.  What can be done?  What should be done?

The initial emotional reaction of betrayal and a search for justice should be weighed against the man's connection with the child.  Ending child support payments is possible, but it's more complicated than you would imagine.  It involves a denial of paternity and a lawsuit, and eventually the termination of custody and ability to see and raise the child.  If your relationship is such that you look at the child as your own, genetics notwithstanding, an action for wrongful paternity may not be in your - or the child's - best interest.

If little or no relationship with the child exists or the thought of paying for a child you didn't create is unthinkable, an action for wrongful paternity can terminate your status as "father" and thus your rights and duties, including child support.  The law has a time limit for bringing a wrongful paternity lawsuit, however, so you should act immediately after learning facts that would lead you to believe the child may not be yours.  Contact us today to learn more.

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Principal office located in Euless, Texas


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