When a child is born to a married couple, paternity is presumed. However, if you and an unmarried partner have had a child together, paternity will need to be established before a parenting time, decision-making or child support order is entered. Establishing paternity is critical to avoid disputes, particularly if the parents break up. One parent may seek custody or child support, or a man may question whether he is truly the child's father per a woman's claim.
What Is Paternity?
Paternity is the legal process that defines the identity of a child's legal father. Establishing paternity may involve DNA genetic testing to determine the biological father. DNA genetic testing is more than 99% accurate at determining a father's identity. The first step in any paternity action is determining the child’s legal father when the parents are unmarried and must occur prior to any subsequent determinations of parenting time, decision-making and child support.
What Happens in Paternity Cases?
Paternity cases usually begin when one of the parents files a formal request in court to establish paternity, typically so that a parent can exercise legal decision-making or parenting time. Sometimes, a mother will initiate a paternity action to obtain child support from father.
Rights After Paternity Is Established
After paternity is established, then the Court can enter orders regarding decision-making, parenting time and child support. Establishing paternity also affords the child a legal right to inherit from the father.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help
Establishing paternity can give you, and your child, several benefits. These include:
- Financial support from both parents
- Relationship with both parents
- Both parents' names on the birth certificate
- Access to family medical history
- Inheritance rights
- Ability to receive Social Security or Veterans' benefits
Concerns for Fathers
If your paternity has not been established, you may not be able to make decisions and exercise parenting time if the other parent is not amicable. One goal in establishing paternity is to protect your rights and future relationship with your child. We can help establish paternity and create a parenting plan that recognizes both parents’ unique contributions to the best interests of the child.
Concerns for Mothers
If there is not a paternity order, you may not be able to receive financial support from your child’s father if the other parent does not cooperate. One goal in establishing paternity is to ensure that the child’s father is making financial contributions to support the child, either through child support, contribution to medical insurance, or out of pocket expenses.
Representation for Establishing Paternity
Navigating the complexity of paternity matters requires legal expertise. Our team focuses solely on family law. We know that your case is unique and will thoroughly listen to your concerns to develop the best possible solution. We will provide you with compassionate legal representation in paternity and other family law issues. Call us today at (602) 807-1400 to learn more about how we can help you with paternity or other family law matters.