What is the process for filing a paternity lawsuit in Texas?

a paternity lawsuit in Texas involves several steps. Here is a detailed explanation of the process

Determine eligibility

To file a paternity lawsuit in Texas, you must be the biological mother, the alleged father, or a government agency representing the child’s best interests.

Gather necessary information

Collect all relevant information, including the names, addresses, and contact details of the parties involved, as well as any supporting evidence such as birth certificates, DNA test results, or other documentation that may establish paternity.

Consult an attorney

It is highly recommended to seek legal advice from a family law attorney experienced in paternity cases. They can guide you through the process, explain your rights, and help you understand the potential outcomes.

Draft the petition

Your attorney will assist you in preparing the petition, which is the legal document that initiates the paternity lawsuit. The petition should include details about the child, the alleged father, and the reasons for seeking a determination of paternity.

File the petition

Once the petition is ready, it must be filed with the appropriate court in the county where the child resides. You will need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county. The court will assign a case number and provide you with a copy of the filed petition.

Serve the other party

The alleged father must be officially notified of the lawsuit by being served with a copy of the petition and a citation. This can be done by a process server, constable, or sheriff’s deputy. Proper service is crucial to ensure the other party’s rights are protected.

Await the response

After being served, the alleged father has a specific time frame (usually around 20 days) to file a response to the lawsuit. They may admit or deny paternity or request genetic testing.

Genetic testing

If the alleged father denies paternity, either party can request genetic testing to determine biological parentage. The court may order DNA testing, and both parties, as well as the child, will be required to provide samples for testing.

Attend court hearings

Depending on the circumstances, there may be several court hearings throughout the process. These hearings may address issues such as temporary custody, child support, visitation rights, or other matters related to the child’s welfare.

Finalize the case

If paternity is established, the court will issue an order declaring the legal father of the child. This order may also address custody, visitation, child support, and other relevant issues. If paternity is not established, the case may be dismissed.