If a man has fathered a child out of wedlock and wants to be notified of a proceeding for adoption or termination of his parental rights he must file a “registration for notification” with the Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) before, or within thirty-one days after the birth of the child. Texas Family Code Section 160.402(a). The filing of the registration does not create a presumption of paternity and the mother is not entitled to notice of the registration unless she has provided an address to the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Registration entitles the registrant to notice of a proceeding for termination or adoption with respect to the child but does not begin a proceeding to establish paternity. That would have to be done by the father filing a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship. The failure of an unmarried birth father to timely register is grounds for termination of his parental rights and may result in the parental rights of a man alleged to be the father of a child being terminated without notice. The information disclosed on the form may be used against the registrant to establish paternity, however, if he finds out he may not be the father, he may rescind his registration at any time. The registration simply identifies child the man “may have fathered.”
The paternity registry serves a dual purpose. The first is to insure that a man who may have fathered a child out of wedlock be notified of a proceeding for termination or adoption. The second is to provide a way to terminate his rights if he failed to timely register with the paternity registry. This can be used when the alleged father’s identity or whereabouts are unknown and the grounds for the termination of his rights are that he failed to timely register. When this the grounds for his termination, the court cannot terminate his rights unless the court receives a certificate of the results of a search of the paternity registry from the BVS indicating that no man has registered with the intent to claim paternity. If he has registered, the petitioner must attempt service of process.