In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General explains that to establish a legal connection between father and child, you have to establish paternity. With established paternity, your name appears on your child’s birth certificate, you receive legal rights in accordance to childcare and you can protect the child’s legal connection. You also receive a father’s right to medical records and school records. Likewise, paternity provides a foundation for custody rights.
If you are not married to the mother, to establish paternity, you need to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. You can complete the process quickly by simply signing a form with the mother. Parents have an opportunity to sign an AOP before the child’s birth, during and after.
In other situations, you may use a court order to establish paternity. After you open a case with the Office of the Attorney General, you go through the process to determine paternity. There will likely be DNA testing to prove paternity.
When it comes to medical support, visitation, child support and custody, you still need a court order. If you are not married to the woman pregnant with your child, you do need to act quickly. If you do not establish paternity, someone else can adopt your baby. After birth, you have 31 days to register with the State’s Registry of Paternity through the DSHS. If you miss this window, you may not have any recourse if someone else adopts your child. You lose your father’s rights.
This information provides a general idea of why paternity is important to father’s rights. You should not interpret it as legal advice.