paternity-contentConservatorship also arises in the area of paternity. Our firm represents parties in paternity suits by assisting them in determining paternity, addressing possession of a child, and litigating related child support issues.

A typical paternity suit arises with one party filing suit to establish a parent-child relationship. This may be filed on behalf of either the mother or the father. The father or mother generally may pursue the paternity matter even if the father is not listed on the child’s birth certificate.

Why file a paternity suit?

Many times, a paternity suit is filed by a parent that is concerned the other parent will take possession of the child without an intent to return the child. In those matters, the court may enter an order that will provide times for possession of the child by each parent. In making an order in a paternity suit, as in other cases involving conservatorship, the court will likely decide what rights each party may exercise concerning the child. In so doing, the court will decide with whom the child will reside and how the parents will make decisions for the child concerning medical treatment, education, and the health of the child.

What might the court address in a paternity suit?

In a paternity suit, the court will also determine what possession schedule will be exercised by each parent. As in a conservatorship suit, the court may enter a Standard Possession Order. Under such an order, the child may live primarily with one parent and the other parent may have a set time for possession including the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month, extended time during the summer, and alternating holidays including spring break.

A court will likely also order one parent to pay child support and will set an amount for the child support to be paid. The child support payments are usually ordered to be paid through an agency in Texas known as the State Disbursement Unit. Once the payment is received by the State Disbursement Unit, payment is then distributed to the parent having the right to receive the child support. Similar to child support, the court may decide which parent will have an obligation to provide health insurance for the child as well as which parent will have the obligation to pay the premiums for the health insurance. Related items that are not covered by insurance might be ordered by the court to be paid equally between the parents.

The final order entered in a paternity suit will have the effect of creating a legal parent-child relationship. While the parties may have a moral obligation before the entry of the order to provide for the child, the order will create a legal obligation between the parents to provide for the child.