Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Does a Paternity Determination Mean?

What Does a Paternity Determination Mean?

Determining paternity means determining the identify of the biological father of a specific child for purposes of the law.  It is a process that decides who fathered the child and should therefore be financially responsible and gain rights to access the child and decisions regarding the child.  However, the legal significance is very important and is often misunderstood.  The emotional and personal significance can also be a huge part of a father’s life and will likely determine a very large part of the child’s future, making the step of establishing paternity a very important one. 

Voluntary or Not?

A potential father might choose to have the paternity of a child determined, or the court may order it, despite resistance.  There are multiple ways to determine paternity.  One way to determine paternity is by marriage.  A child born within the confines of a marriage is assumed to be fathered by the husband.  Similarly, if a child is born and the parents later marry, the child is presumed to be the child of the husband if the couple signs legitimacy papers or the father puts his name on the child’s birth certificate.  Additionally, a court order such as a divorce decree, separation agreement, or other order might specify the father as the parent of the child, establishing paternity.

If the purported child denies paternity, the mother of the child can file a paternity suit.  At that point, the court will likely demand the purported child undergo genetic testing using DNA to determine the paternity.  In the case of a court-required paternity determination, it is important that both parties are aware of their respective rights and obligations, a task a family law attorney can make much easier to handle. 

What does it Mean?

Once paternity has been established, by any of the methods above, there will be legal implications for both the parents and the child.  This may very well mean that the father will then be required to pay child support, money sent to the providing parent to help support the child financially.  In addition, the father may be allowed visitation and or partial custody.  The father may also gain rights to be a part of important decisions regarding the child’s life.  The child can now inherit from and through the father and might also gain immediate financial support.  All of these legal implications will be determined by the court or by agreement of the parties.  Either way, an experienced family law attorney could be key to the process and gaining all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with being declared the parent of a child. 

What does this Mean for You?

If you or someone you know is dealing with paternity issues, the first crucial step is to hire a good family law attorney.  The attorneys at Edwards & Associates are highly experienced on the issue of father’s rights and we may be able to help you with your paternity or father’s rights issues.  Contact us to find out more or visit our website for more information on our practice and how we may be able to help you.  

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