Lewisville Child Support Lawyers
Child support is commonly a contentious legal matter divorcing couples face. It’s particularly challenging if you have never married. Although fathers have parental rights, it might be necessary to establish paternity to remain in your child’s life.
At Alexander & Associates, we understand the complexities of pursuing a paternity matter and how to resolve any disputes that arise with the mother of your kids. We could represent you in your case and be the advocate you need to face this uphill battle.
Any parent who doesn’t reside with their children might have to pay child support. Support can be used to provide basic needs, such as housing, clothes, food, and educational expenses. A question of paternity can come into play if you’re not the biological father, or you are, but there’s no legal documentation to support that relationship. Establishing paternity could require complicated legal procedures and intense courtroom battles.
At Alexander & Associates, we are ready to help you prove or disprove paternity and aggressively pursue your desired outcome. You can depend on us to guide you through the legal process and remain in your corner until the end. Call us at (972) 420-6560 right now for a consultation with one of our highly skilled and dedicated Lewisville child support lawyers.
Establishing the Father-Child Relationship
According to Texas law, a father could fit into one of four main categories. These categories determine whether the father has parental rights over their children.
As defined under Texas Family code 101.0015, an alleged father is someone alleging to be a child’s biological father. However, there is no legal recognition of paternity. The legal definition does not include:
- A sperm donor;
- A presumed father; or
- A man with terminated parental rights or a declaration that those rights do not exist.
Texas Family code 101.0010 defines an acknowledged father as one with a legal father-child relationship. That means both parents must have signed a document establishing paternity, and the child does not have another acknowledged father, presumed father, or adjudicated father.
A man is a presumed father under Texas Family code 160.204 if:
- He married the mother before she gave birth;
- The child was born while both parents were married to each other;
- He is married to the mother, and she gave birth to their child before the 301st day after the marriage ended by annulment, divorce, declaration of invalidity, or death;
- The parents married after the birth of the child regardless of whether the marriage is valid, could be declared invalid, or the father voluntarily established paternity by the birth certificate or record filed with the vital statistics unit; or
- During the child’s first two years of life, the father resided in the household and claimed them as his own to other people.
Texas Family code 160.102 establishes an adjudicated father as a man the court adjudicated as the father of a child. The mother and father can file a petition and attend a hearing to discuss the results of a court-ordered DNA test. A judge will decide if the man is the legal father of the child and afford them the rights and responsibilities of a parent.
How to Establish Paternity in Texas
You can establish paternity through voluntary or involuntary means. One of the most common and easiest ways is to produce a birth certificate with your name on it.
If both parents agree the man is the father of their children, whether or not they were married, they can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. The mother and father must work together with a local AOP-certified entity trained by the Office of the Attorney General to help with voluntary paternity actions.
If the mother is married to someone else, they must complete the Denial of Paternity section on the AOP form to establish that her spouse is not the father of the children in question.
An involuntary paternity action means one of the parties involved in the matter has disputed the man’s paternity. You must file a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage with the appropriate court in the county where your child resides. The court can order DNA testing if the mother or father is unsure of or denies paternity. If the results show the man is the biological father, he can add his name to his child’s birth certificate.
Determining Child Support in a Paternity Action
If the mother can prove you are the children’s biological father, she will likely seek child support. The court considers various factors to determine if the parent with primary custody deserves to receive payments from the other parent. These factors could include:
- The number of children involved
- The age of each child
- Each parent’s income, assets, and other financial capabilities
- Amount of child care expenses
- Whether there’s a spousal support arrangement
- Benefits both parents receive through employment
- Debt and other financial obligations of each parent
- Costs associated with child support and visitation rights
- Special needs of a child
- Cost of medical care for the children
- Mortgage, automobile, or lease payments required from the parents
The amount of these payments will depend on how many children there are and a percentage of the paying parent’s income under Texas Family code 154.125:
- One child – 20% of net resources
- Two children – 25% of net resources
- Three children – 30% of net resources
- Four children – 35% of net resources
- Five children – 40% of net resources
- Six or more children – No less than the payments for five children
The court can order the payment of child support as:
- A lump-sum payment
- Periodic payments
- Enforceable qualified domestic relations order or similar order for retirement, pension, or another employee benefit
- An annuity purchase
- Property set aside and used to support the child
- A combination of periodic payments, a lump-sum payment, property, or annuity purchases
The duration of child support will depend on the court order. Payments can end when:
- The child graduates from high school or turns 18 years old, whichever happens later;
- The child dies; or
- A court order removes a legal disability, the child becomes emancipated by marriage, or another legal method.
If any child has a disability, child support could continue indefinitely.
If you’re seeking a paternity action for a child support dispute, contact Alexander & Associates immediately. One of our Lewisville child support lawyers can discuss your case during a confidential consultation and determine what we can do to help you try to reach your legal goals. Call now at (972) 420-6560.