What is Paternity?
Paternity is legal fatherhood. Getting paternity gives the child a legal father and gives the father rights to his child. When a child is born during the marriage of two people, that child is presumed to be the child of the husband. If the child is born out of wedlock (the parents were not married at the time the child was born), then the father or mother must initiate a legal process called Establishing Paternity. If any of the parties would like to prove that the man is not the father of the child, then any of the parties can file a Disestablishment of Paternity.
Why should I file a Paternity action?
If you would like to establish or disestablish paternity, you should file an action in court in order to protect your legal rights regarding child support, visitation (timesharing) with the child and other rights.
Who files a Paternity action?
Any party can file a paternity action, including:
A woman who is pregnant or currently has a child that believes a specific man is the father of the child;
Any man who has reason to believe that he is or he is not the father of a child; or
Any child who desires to determine paternity when paternity has not been established.
What happens when paternity is established?
When paternity is established, the court may determine custody (time sharing schedule and parenting plans), child support (present and retroactive child support), other issues regarding the children and payment of court costs and attorney fees.
What if I do not believe I am the father of the child?
If you do not believe you are the father of the child in question, you may establish that you are not the father through a paternity action. You may submit yourself and the child to DNA testing to determine if you are the father or not. If the test results in 95% or greater, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the man is the biological father of the child. If the test result shows that the man is not the biological father of the child, the man may be adjudicated not to be the legal father of the child, which means the man does not have to pay any child support or be responsible for other aspects of the child (ex. time sharing).
However, this does not mean that only biological fathers are considered the legal fathers. It is possible that a court can find that a nonbiological father is the legal father of the child (for example, if the child is born during a marriage and the court decides that it is in the best interests of the child to remain the legal father).
I want to bring a paternity action. What do I do?
If you would like to bring a paternity action, call our offices for a initial consultation.