Paternity Determination

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Establishing paternity is the process of determining and recognizing a biological father as a legal father for a child. Below we will discuss the law for establishing paternity, why it’s important, and what parents can do.

Establishing Paternity

When a married couple has a child, the spouses are presumed to be the child’s parents. However, when unmarried people have a child, the biological father is not legally considered the child’s father without establishing his paternity. A child born to unmarried parents is the sole physical and legal responsibility of the mother, with the mother retaining all parental rights and sole legal custody of the child unless and until paternity is established.

What this means for the mother is that she has complete discretion to make all important decisions for the child, has the right to keep the child with her, and can legally determine if and when the biological father can see the child. The biological father has no rights or responsibilities to the child (including financial, medical, custody, etc.) unless paternity is established. If a father wishes to have rights regarding the child, including having a voice in any decision making and having a relationship with his child, he will need to establish paternity and request custody. Once paternity is established, a father is legally recognized and has both rights and responsibilities to the child.

How to Determine Paternity

Some of the most common ways unmarried parents can acknowledge paternity are by:

  • blood and DNA testing.
  • both parents sign an “acknowledgement of parenthood,” or “declaration of paternity” on a state-approved form, in front of a witness.
  • a man cares for the child as his own, provides financial support, and more for a period of time, or
  • the father and the mother write the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

Paternity Suits

Paternity suits in court are initiated for a number of reasons. If you are a mother looking to obtain child support and secure medical benefits for your child, we can assist you. If you are a mother looking to gain social security, pension, retirement benefits, veterans’ benefits, or inheritance rights for your child, we can assist you. If you are a father looking to establish yourself as the legal parent eligible for custody and visitation rights, we can assist you.

Rights and Responsibilities of Paternity

Once paternity is established and confirmed, the child becomes the responsibility of both the mother and the legal father, and the father’s rights to the child are established. Visitation, child support, and custody are all matters that must be resolved, and the family lawyers at Malik & Associates, PLLC, can assist you with the terms of these agreements.

Your Legal Guides to Contesting Paternity

If paternity is doubted, the mother or father may contest paternity by petitioning the court for a paternity determination. DNA testing has made this process much easier, requiring genetic samples from the mother, father and child be sent to a laboratory for genetic testing. The lawyers at Malik & Associates PLLC can help you through the process of contesting paternity.

Why is Paternity Important?

Determining paternity is important for many reasons. Financial support for the child becomes the responsibility of both parents once paternity is established. Both the mother and father will be responsible for a fair portion of any expenses related to the child’s life and medical care, among other things.

Determining paternity is vitally important for determining a complete health and medical history for the child. Once paternity is established, the child will have access to the father’s family medical history, which could prove very important should the child present any genetic health issues, need a blood transfusion or organ transplant, or for many other medical reasons.

Finally, determining paternity provides children with a whole picture of themselves and their heritage, which is an important psychological and emotional benefit, as they are able to have relationships with both the mother’s and father’s family members.

Need Professional Help? Talk to an Attorney Today

Want specific answers to your questions about paternity? If you need high quality legal services regarding establishing or contesting paternity, contact an experienced family law attorney at Malik & Associates, PLLC, right away. Call at 214-881-2100 or fill out our form online to schedule your consultation as soon as possible. You deserve the right to be represented and receive counsel by a competent team who is on your side and will fight for you and your family.

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