Family Law


Paternity and the Law


Posted By on Sep 8, 2017

Families often have an issue with confirming the paternity of a child, and the parents can either be married, unmarried, separated or divorced. Paternity law involves legal recognition of the biological father of the child. When the paternity is unknown, genetic testing is generally done to establish this paternity. If the alleged father is trying to disprove his paternity, the mother can file a paternity suit against him so that child support can be obtained.

These paternity issues can arise when there are cases involving child support, but they are also important in areas like custody and visitation, health care, adoption, and inheritance.   The action to establish paternity is a civil proceeding. This proceeding is usually done when one party contests the paternity allegation. The alleged father may want proof that he is the actual father before he agrees to pay any type of financial support. However, the mother can also contest the father’s paternity, like when another man, other than her husband, attempts to gain custody of or visitation rights with a child that he thinks may be his own child.

In many cases, paternity can be established voluntarily when there is no disagreement among the parents. Also, paternity can be established by circumstantial evidence, like when a married man is presumed to be the father of a baby that was born shortly after the marriage to his wife.

When DNA profiling became available, this was an important breakthrough in discovering the paternity of the child. The DNA testing can establish a father’s paternity with over ninety-nine percent accuracy, and it can be done before the child is born. When paternity is established in this way, the father can be ordered to pay child support for his child.

There are cases where the father is not married to the child’s mother. This father will not likely be awarded custody of the child if the mother is providing good care for that child.   However, the father can receive preference over grandparents or prospective adoptive parents.

In the instance where two unmarried persons have a child together, the father needs to sign an ‘Acknowledgement of Paternity’ to be officially declared the father of the child, with all the rights and obligations associated with this role. However, if the father chooses not to sign this document or is prevented from signing it, the court can intervene and enter an order that establishes paternity. This paternity order declares that the child’s father is the legal father.

If there is no official acknowledgment of paternity or the paternity order, the child’s father has no obligation to pay child support. This can cause a financial burden on a single, unmarried mother, so in these types of situations, the paternity order is commonly sought. Likewise, if the father wants to have custody – shared, partial or full – or have visitation rights, he would have to be legally named the father through an acknowledgment of paternity or a paternity order.

Like a lot of family law issues, establishing paternity can be emotionally and financially challenging to all concerned. In these types of cases, it is especially important to seek the counsel of an experienced Family Law attorney. This type of attorney, like Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, can answer your questions and assist you with any court proceedings when required.

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