In Texas, the law considers a married father to be the parent of a child. You must sign the birth certificate, but you do not need to jump through extra hoops. For unmarried fathers, it is a bit of a different story.
We will look at why unmarried fathers should still establish paternity. It is true that you must go through extra steps that your married peers do not. But it is well worthwhile in the end.
There is no obligation to keep you informed
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse takes a look at reasons to establish paternity. They suggest unmarried fathers establish paternity if they wish for involvement with their child. Why is this? Without establishing legal paternity, the mother of your child owes you nothing. They make every decision. They can move without notifying you. They can leave the country.
The child’s mother holds all legal power
No one has legal obligations to tell you what is happening with your own child. This includes child protection services. For example, let us say CPS removes your child from their mother’s custody. Though CPS is under legal obligation to make an effort to find the father, they may not contact you. Your child may end up in the foster care system.
The child’s mother holds responsibility for all important life decisions, too. You will have no say in the medical attention they receive. You have no say in the schools they go to. You have no say in the religion their mother raises them with.
Some unmarried fathers shy away from establishing paternity. They fear paying child support. But if you have any interest in being in your child’s life, it is a necessary step to take.