You may not think that this distinction is important, but in the world of family law it is imperative that you understand the difference. It could be the difference between you actually being the father of a child in the eyes of the law as well as differing burdens of how to overcome that label if you are not the child’s biological father. In fact, if you are in the middle of a divorce or a suit affecting the parent child relationship, knowing your definitions is crucial when it comes to duties to support children and your rights to visiting those children.
Texas Family Code Section 101.0015 defines alleged father as a man who “alleges himself to be, or is alleged to be, the genetic father or a possible genetic father of a child, but whose paternity has not been determined.” So, if you think that you are the father of a child but it has not been concluded by court ordered genetic testing—then you are an alleged father. We see this type of scenario come up in situations such as cases involving the Attorney General’s Office of Texas. If a woman petitions the Attorney General’s Office for child support, then that agency will file a lawsuit and have all of the alleged fathers served. It is then your duty to ask for genetic testing if there is any doubt in your mind about whether or not you are the father. Once genetic testing is completed and paternity is established, you then become an adjudicated father. Adjudicated father is defined in Texas Family Code Section 160.102(1) as a man who is determined to be the father of a child by the Court. Therefore, once your paternity is established by results of genetic testing then the Court will name you as the father and proceed forward with child support, visitation, etc.
In contrast, Texas Family Code Section 160.204 defines a presumed father as follows: