If you are a father who has a legally recognized relationship with your children, you have certain rights and responsibilities in regard to them. However, if you are not married to the mother of your children, you may not have a legal relationship with them.
The good news is that it is possible to establish a legal relationship with your children. Because there are several options available to gain the legal status you seek, Texas state law defines fatherhood in several different ways:
- Acknowledged father
You can become an acknowledged father by signing an acknowledgment of paternity that establishes your legal relationship to your children. It is common for a father to sign this in the hospital when his children are born if he and the child’s mother are not married.
- Presumed father
If you are a presumed father, you do not need to do anything to establish your legal status. The law recognizes your status as the father of your children until a legal proceeding takes place confirming or rebutting it. The mother’s husband is a presumed father in the eyes of the law.
- Adjudicated father
You are an adjudicated father if a court proceeding has affirmed your legal relationship with your children. One of the ways that this can occur is if a legal proceeding confirms your biological relationship to your wife’s children. In a situation like this, you start out as the presumed father and become the adjudicated father following the proceedings. However, you maintain your legal relationship to your children.
- Putative father
You are a putative father if you believe yourself to be the child’s father and/or the children’s mother believes you to be the biological father but you have not established legal paternity. When you sign an acknowledgment of paternity, you cease to be a putative father and become an acknowledged father.
- Alleged father
If you and/or the child’s mother claim that you are the biological father but you have not yet confirmed this, you are an alleged father. Genetic testing can confirm or rebut the claim.