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Basics of Paternity

What Does Paternity Establishment Mean?

  • Paternity establishment is the process of determining the legal father of a child born to parents who are not married.
  • Every child has a biological father, but if a child’s parents are not married, the law does not accept or recognize the biological father as the legal father. Until the father is determined to be the legal father, he has no rights to or responsibilities for the child.
  • Establishing paternity for a child born to unmarried parents gives the child the same rights and benefits as a child born to parents who are married.

How Can Paternity be Established?

Unmarried parents can establish paternity in one of two ways:

What is Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP)?

  • The AOP is a form for parents to voluntarily establish legal paternity for their child.
  • It is used when the biological parents of a child are not married to each other when their baby is born. All parties to the AOP sign voluntarily, and then the form is filed with the Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) by the hospital’s Birth Registrar. After the AOP is filed, it becomes a legal finding of paternity.

Who Benefits from Establishing Paternity?

The child benefits from establishing from paternity. A child benefits from establishing paternity by having:

  • A legal record of the identity of his or her parents
  • The father’s name on the birth certificate
  • Access to family medical history and genetic information
  • The emotional benefits of knowing the identity of both parents
  • Financial support from both parents
  • Medical support or health insurance from either parents
  • Other financial benefits, such as Social Security benefits, veteran benefits, military allowances, worker’s compensation benefits and inheritance

Get Birth Certificate Information

Follow the links below to get specific information about birth certificates in the county of the hospital where you gave birth:

Learn More

Learn more about establishing paternity, get answers to frequently asked questions, and get contact information at the Attorney General of Texas Website. Go now »