Paternity is often a thorny issue in child support and child custody disputes, especially when a child’s parents were not married when he or she was born. However, it is important to determine who the child’s father is, from a legal standpoint: Along with the status of a child’s father come certain crucial legal rights and responsibilities.
Determining who the father of a child is can be easy, but it can also be very difficult. If the child’s parents are married, then it is often a non-issue. However, if they are not married, then it can be made difficult, especially if the probable father does not want to voluntarily claim paternity.
A Married Couple Is Presumed to be the Child’s Parents
If a man and a woman are married and they have a child, then the spouses are presumed to be the child’s mother and father.
However, this can become complicated if a paternity petition – a legal claim filed in court to determine a child’s paternity – can be filed by another man who wants to prove that he is the father of the child, instead.
An Unmarried Father Can Voluntarily Claim Paternity
If a man and a woman are not married and they have a child together, the father can voluntarily claim paternity by either:
- Signing a form, drafted by an attorney, that acknowledges his status as the child's father,
- Taking the child in as his own, and holding out to other people that he is the father of the child,
- Developing a close, parent / child relationship with the boy or girl. This includes getting a court to grant him custody rights, or
- Attempting to marry the mother of the child when he or she was born or conceived.
By completing any of these methods, a man can establish himself as the father of the child. However, if the biological father is not able to perform one of these actions before another man does, then the biological father will have to initiate a paternity petition to establish himself as the child’s father.
An Unmarried Father Can Be Proven to be the Father
Sometimes, no one claims paternity over a child, and it becomes necessary to actively prove paternity. Several different people – including the child’s mother or the child his or herself – can bring a paternity petition against the man or men that is believed to be the father. This paternity suit requires the man to appear in court, and may require him to submit to DNA testing to find out if he is the child’s biological father.
The Bombardo Law Office Can Help
Regardless of which situation you find yourself in – whether you are trying to find the father or prove that you are the father – family law attorneys like those at the Bombardo Law Office can help. For something as important as the status of a child’s father, and all of its attendant rights and responsibilities, going it alone through the judicial process can lead to disastrous results. Contact or call our law office at (315)488-5544 so we can help.