Challenging Paternity in Texas

Texas law indicates that certain rights and duties devolving upon the parents of a child. The identity of the mother is rarely in doubt in the majority of cases that come before the court. Questions of paternity, or the identity father of the child, however, tend to be more complex. Fortunately, modern technology provides reliable methods to determine who fathered a child by testing their DNA.

A civil suit designed to alter or challenge paternity may be filed by the mother or any alleged father involved in the case. Since paternity is often established by the means of scientific tests, challenges are often mounted on the grounds that a previous test was applied incorrectly or misinterpreted. It may also be possible that someone defrauded the test, perhaps by sending someone to take the test for them. It can be effective to prove that the man accused of paternity is sterile or infertile, precluding the possibility of him fathering a child. Finally, paternity may be disputed if a man can prove that his wife was sexually unfaithful to him.

Paternity is important to clearly delineate for a variety of reasons. Not only can it be helpful to the child’s emotional health, but clear access to the father’s medical records can also make an enormous difference to the physical well-being of their offspring. A child with proven paternity is also eligible to inherit from their father, as well as possibly receive financial aid.

Demonstrating and challenging paternity may be easier with the assistance of a family law attorney. The attorney could prepare motions, make petitions to the court and represent their client when necessary.

Using DNA testing to establish paternity in Texas

Many reasons exist for seeking a paternity test in Texas. A father may wish to establish paternity with the courts in order to enjoy his parental right to have a relationship with his children. Some fathers suspect paternity fraud. A mother may need to establish paternity in order to seek child support. Parents requesting paternity tests may be unsure how they work and of the accuracy rate of common paternity tests.

Modern paternity tests compare the DNA of the child to his or her mother and the presumed father and have a 99.99 percent rate of accuracy. Results are generally available within a few days. DNA testing facilities take a sample of the tissue on the inside of each person’s cheek by using a cotton swab. Lab technicians then use an enzyme called polymerase to duplicate each person’s DNA until they have a sufficient sample size.

The person analyzing the sample compares 16 fragments of the child’s DNA to corresponding fragments in the presumed parents’ DNA. Each parent contributes eight of the 16 relevant fragments to the child’s DNA, so eight of the 16 fragments examined in the test should match the mother’s DNA and eight should match the father’s. There many low-cost DNA testing services that require a mail-in sample. However, courts generally require the use of a local testing facility accredited by the AABB for establishing paternity legally.

Further action in court may be required even after paternity test results confirm a father’s genetic relationship with his children. The father may wish to pursue visitation or custody, and a family law attorney can represent him at each step of the process and demonstrate that such rights would be in the best interests of the children involved.