Unmarried Texas fathers who wish to affirm their willingness to take responsibility for their unborn children may not be aware of the state paternity registry that serves to help protect paternal rights. The Texas Vital Statistics Unit maintains the registry. There are several circumstances in which a man may want to register his intent to claim paternity, which must be established before he can seek child custody.
When a consensual sexual relationship is ended, and the man suspects that he may have fathered a child, he may want to ensure that he would be part of that child's life by registering on the paternity register. This must be done before the child's birth or within the first 31 days after the birth. If the mother fails to advise the father of her pregnancy and decides to give the child up for adoption, authorities must check the registry and inform the father of the mother's intentions. He will then have the right to object.
The notice of intent to claim paternity does not establish paternity. The claim may also be recorded if another man also claims paternity of the child, or if the mother will not sign the father's acknowledgment of paternity form. It will also not give a man the right to have his name recorded as the child's father on a birth certificate. It is merely a way for a man to protect his paternal rights.
Any Texas father who wants to preserve his paternal rights to an unborn child may benefit from obtaining advice from an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can provide guidance related to the procedures required to petition the court for establishing legal paternity and preventing an adoption before it is too late. If the mother insists on giving up the child, the attorney can also work on petitioning for child custody to be awarded to the father once legal paternity has been established.
Source: dshs.state.tx.us, "Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity - Paternity Registry", Accessed on Jan. 29, 2016