How Can I Establishing Paternity for a Deceased Father?

Photo of Birth CertificateSometimes the biological father of a child dies before he becomes the legal father by signing an acknowledgement of paternity or having a court decide as much. Texas family law still requires that there be proof of paternity before benefits from the father can pass to the child. Likewise, courts will require proof of paternity when they probate a father’s will. It is usually not enough that there existed a relationship between the father and child or that the father supported the child. Parties should still legally establish paternity as soon as possible. A Houston paternity lawyer who is experienced in paternity legal issues is available to help you establish or dispute paternity in cases where the alleged father has passed away.

How to Establish Paternity Following the Alleged Father’s Death

  • Use the father’s DNA. This is the easiest way to determine paternity. However, sometimes obtaining the DNA from the father is no longer feasible. A Houston paternity attorney can advise you on the best method to obtain the alleged father’s DNA for paternity purposes.
  • Obtain the father’s DNA. This will depend upon the time that has passed since the alleged father’s death. If he has passed away recently, hair or fingernail clippings may be sufficient. Common, everyday-use objects such as a toothbrush or hairbrush may provide excellent samples. Obtaining DNA from the alleged father becomes more difficult if he has been deceased a long time or if the funeral home cremated his remains. In these instances, DNA testers may have to examine the alleged father’s family members instead.
  • Compare the child’s DNA to the father’s family members. Scientists can often establish a relationship by seeing how close the child’s DNA is to close family members of the deceased, alleged father. The more family members tested, the more conclusive the results. In other words, both the mother and father of the alleged father and the mother should have DNA samples taken. DNA from a single parent of the alleged father is insufficient, as it only provides half of his own DNA.

When Paternity Disputes Arise Following the Death of the Alleged Father

The following are some of the situations in which it would be wise to obtain DNA testing of a deceased, alleged father:

  • To obtain social security or insurance benefits
  • To settle an inheritance dispute
  • To bring a wrongful death lawsuit

Parties must act quickly if they suspect that there may be a paternity issue with a deceased father. There are time restrictions that may apply if the child’s family or the heirs of the father wish to establish or dispute paternity. A failure to act may deny (or wrongfully provide) benefits and inheritance to a child. Contact a Houston paternity dispute lawyer at John K. Grubb & Associates, PC if the alleged father of a child has passed away and you wish to establish or dispute paternity.

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