The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Texas

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Definitions

Citation: Family Code §§ 160.102; 160.204

An 'adjudicated father' is a person who has been adjudicated by a court to be the other parent of a child. A 'presumed father' is a person who, by operation of law under § 160.204, is recognized as the other parent of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed in a judicial proceeding.

A person is presumed to be the other parent of a child if any of the following apply:

  • The person is married to the child's birth parent and the child is born during the marriage.
  • The person was married to the child's birth parent and the child is born before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated.
  • The person married the child's birth parent before the child's birth, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or before the 301st day after the date the marriage is terminated.
  • The person married the child's birth parent after the child's birth, regardless of whether the marriage is or could be declared invalid, they voluntarily asserted their parentage of the child, and any of the following apply:
    • The assertion is in a record filed with the Vital Statistics Unit.
    • They are voluntarily named as the child's other parent on the child's birth certificate.
    • They promised in a record to support the child as their own.
  • During the first 2 years of the child's life, they continuously resided in the household in which the child resided, and they represented to others that the child was their own.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Family Code §§ 160.401; 160.402

A registry of parentage is established in the Vital Statistics Unit.

A person who desires to be notified of a proceeding for the adoption of or the termination of parental rights regarding a child for they may be the child's other parent may register with the registry of parentage as follows:

  • Before the birth of the child
  • No later than the 31st day after the date of the child's birth

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Family Code §§ 160.301; 160.302; 160.402; 160.502; 160.505

The birth parent of a child and a person claiming to be the child's biological other parent may sign an acknowledgment of parentage with the intent to establish the person's parentage. An acknowledgment of parentage must include the following:

  • Be in a record
  • Be signed or otherwise authenticated by the birth parent and the person seeking to establish parentage
  • State that the following applies to the child whose parentage is being acknowledged:
    • Does not have a presumed other parent or has a presumed other parent whose full name is stated
    • Does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated other parent
  • State whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the acknowledging person's claim of parentage is consistent with the results of the testing
  • State that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of the parentage of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances

A person is entitled to notice of a proceeding regardless of whether they register with the registry of parentage if either of the following applies:

  • A parent-child relationship between the person and the child has been established under this chapter or another law.
  • The person commences a proceeding to adjudicate parentage before the court has terminated their parental rights.

A court shall order a child and other designated individuals to submit to genetic testing if the request is made by a party to a proceeding to determine parentage. A person is rebuttably identified as the genetic parent of a child if the results of the genetic testing disclose that the person has at least a 99-percent probability of genetic parentage.

Required Information

Citation: Family Code §§ 160.411; 160.402

The Vital Statistics Unit shall adopt a form for registering with the registry. The form requires the signature of the registrant and must state the following:

  • The form is signed under penalty of perjury.
  • A timely registration entitles the registrant to notice of a proceeding for adoption of the child or for termination of the registrant's parental rights.
  • A timely registration does not commence a proceeding to establish parentage.
  • The information disclosed on the form may be used against the registrant to establish parentage.
  • Services to assist in establishing parentage are available to the registrant through the support enforcement agency.
  • The registrant also should register in another State if the conception or birth of the child occurred in the other State.
  • Information on registries in other States is available from the unit.
  • Procedures exist to rescind the registration of a claim of parentage.

A registrant shall promptly notify the registry of any change in the information provided by the registrant. The Vital Statistics Unit shall incorporate all new information received into its records but is not required to affirmatively seek to obtain current information for incorporation in the registry.

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Family Code §§ 160.307; 160.308; 160.414

A signatory may rescind an acknowledgment of parentage before the earlier of either of the following:

  • Sixty days after the effective date of the acknowledgment
  • The date a proceeding to which the signatory is a party is initiated before a court to adjudicate an issue relating to the child, including a proceeding that establishes child support

After the period for rescission has expired, a signatory of an acknowledgment of parentage may commence a proceeding to challenge the acknowledgment based only on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. The proceeding may be commenced at any time before the issuance of an order affecting the child identified in the acknowledgment or denial, including an order relating to support of the child. A party challenging an acknowledgment of parentage or denial of parentage has the burden of proof.

Evidence based on genetic testing that the man who is the signatory of an acknowledgement of parentage is not rebuttably identified as the father of a child in accordance with § 160.505 constitutes a material mistake of fact.

A registrant in the putative fathers' registry may rescind their registration at any time by sending a rescission in a record or another manner authenticated by them and witnessed or notarized to the registry.

Access to Information

Citation: Family Code § 160.412

The Vital Statistics Unit is not required to attempt to locate the birth parent of a child who is the subject of a registration. The unit shall send a copy of the notice of the registration to a birth parent who has provided an address.

Information contained in the registry is confidential and only may be released on request to any of the following:

  • A court or a person designated by the court
  • The birth parent of the child who is the subject of the registration
  • An agency authorized by law to receive the information
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A support enforcement agency
  • A party, or the party's attorney of record, to a proceeding under this chapter or a proceeding to adopt or to terminate parental rights regarding a child who is the subject of the registration
  • The registry of parentage in another State