Texas Adjudicate Parentage Proceedings Are Used to Determine If a Person Is a Child's Parent

What Is Adjudicating Parentage in Texas?

Usually, it is pretty clear who a child's parents are - but not always. Sometimes, it takes a court to make the final determination of the identity of one of a child's parents. In Texas, an Adjudicate Parentage proceeding is used to ask a court to make this determination. The Uniform Parentage Act (Texas Family Code Chapter 160, sections 160.601-160.636) provides the procedures for filing an Adjudicate Parentage action. Although the law can be used to determine the identity of a child's mother or father, it is most typically used to determine the identity of a child's father.

Who Can File for Adjudication of Parentage in Texas?

The Uniform Parentage Act permits Adjudicate Parentage actions to be filed by:

The child or his/her representative;

A man whose paternity is to be determined;

The child's mother;

Support enforcement agencies;

Adoption and child placement agencies;

Individuals who agree to be the parents of a child born by assisted reproduction; and

The representatives of any deceased individual who could have brought an Adjudicate Parentage action while living.

What Is the Process for Filing for Adjudication of Parentage in Texas?

The first step in filing an Adjudication of Parentage action is to file a

completed "Petition to Adjudicate Parentage" with the appropriate court. The law has several criteria for how long someone can wait to bring an Adjudicate Parentage action. In general, if there is no presumed father there is no time limitation, but if there is a presumed father the action must be filed within four years of the child's birth. In addition, there are special rules that may change the time allowed to file an action and Adjudicate Parentage actions can also be filed before the child is actually born.

Regardless of who brings the Adjudicate Parentage action, the mother of the child and the man whose paternity is to be determined must be included in the proceeding. Once the petition is filed, the person bringing the action must serve the petition on the other parties involved in the case. Once they receive the petition, the other parties will then have to respond to the petition.

The final step will be a hearing before a judge. The law specifically states that Adjudicate Parentage actions will always be heard by judges and never by juries. In determining whether or not to issue an Adjudicate Parentage order as requested by the petition, the judge will consider evidence submitted by the parties, including the history of the relationship of the parties. It is common in Adjudicate Parentage proceedings for courts to consider the results of genetic testing, but the judge can also elect to completely ignore the results of genetic testing if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

If the Court issues an Adjudicate Parentage order, the person determined to be a child's parent will generally obtain all the rights and responsibilities of being a parent, including custody/visitation and support obligations. However, based on the circumstances, the judge can also elect to issue an order that specifically details the rights and obligations gained by the newly adjudicated parent.

Need Assistance with Texas Adjudication of Parentage Proceedings?

If you are considering filing a "Petition to Adjudicate Parentage" or have been served with such a petition, and feel that you need assistance with the proceeding, you can text or call the American Family Law Center for help.

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