When a child is born to an unmarried couple in Texas, he or she does not automatically have a legal father. Instead, the biological father and mother have to take steps to establish his status. Once this is done, a father has all the rights and responsibilities of paternity, and the child receives all of those benefits and more.
According to the Attorney General of Texas, the easiest way to establish paternity is through signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This can be done at the hospital at the time of birth, and both parents must sign it. This free form can also be filled out at the following locations:
- County birth registrar's office
- Office of the Attorney General child support office
- Any AOP certified entity
The Texas AG points out that paternity has many benefits. A father who has established paternity has rights to visitation or custody, and a child who has a father involved in his or her life receives emotional and psychological support that are important to healthy development.
There are financial advantages, too, and these go beyond child support. For example, a father may provide health insurance, or the child may qualify for Social Security or veterans benefits, or for benefits through another government program.
Having an accurate and complete family medical history on record may be critical to the health of a child. It may be that he or she should receive tests or regular screenings for genetic disorders or issues such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.