Are you my Father?   In Texas, there are many ways to become recognized as the father of a child, regardless of genetics and biology. Although biology is an important aspect of parentage in Texas, it is possible to find yourself in a position where you become the “father” of a child based solely on the relationship that you have with the child’s mother.  

Texas law defines “father” in the following ways:

1. Presumed Father: In Texas, a man becomes a father if his paternity is presumed.   A man’s paternity is presumed in the following situations:

a.         The man is married to the child’s mother, and the child is born during the marriage;

b.         The man was married to the child’s mother, and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage was terminated. 

c.         The man married the child’s mother before the birth of the child in apparent compliance with the law (regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid), and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ended.

d.         The man married the child’s mother after the birth of the child in apparent compliance with the law, he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child and (1) the assertion is in a record filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics, (2) he is voluntarily named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or (3) he promised in a record to support the child as his own.

e.         He continuously lived in the same household with the child during the first two years of the child’s life, and he represented to others that the child was his own.

2.  Acknowledged Father:  A man becomes a father if he and the mother sign an acknowledgement of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity. An acknowledgement of paternity is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The signing of a valid acknowledgement of paternity adjudicates parentage and therefore, the acknowledged father has all of the rights and duties of a parent.

3.  Father by Adoption: A man becomes a father if he adopts a child.

4.  Father by Adjudicated Paternity: A man becomes a father if his paternity is adjudicated. 

5. Father by Consent to Assisted Reproduction: A man becomes a father if he consents to assisted reproduction by the mother.

6. Father by Gestational Agreement:  A man becomes a father if he is adjudicated to be the father of a child born to a gestational mother under a validated gestational agreement.

*graphic courtesy of netanimations.net

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.