Paternity represents the assigning of legal responsibility for a child onto a person. Typically, paternity deals with assigning a father’s responsibility, as the mother is most often known. However, this is not always the case with hospital record mistakes or child abandonment.
Paternity issues can be raised by one or more people with a current tie to the child or by the state. For the sake of brevity, the Court allows paternity to be acknowledged through affidavit. If a mother and/or father signs the affidavit at the hospital upon the birth of a child, it becomes the same as a judgement from the Court after 60 days.
A body determines paternity through multiple methods. The first presumption is that a man married to the birth mother is the parent. Cohabitating with the mother for at least six months prior to the conception and through the duration of the pregnancy is another. Finally, genetic tests are considered conclusive proof of paternity.
These presumptions may be disputed by showing conflicting evidence that is clear and bears weight beyond logic controls. Genetic testing is considered the weightiest evidence in most cases.
Mothers retain sole custody of a child if no judgment of paternity is presented and the child is born outside of marriage. A father, to be afforded the same custody needs to show that they have been the sole provider of care for six weeks after abandonment from the mother.
A father cannot demand a child bear their surname through paternity whether a judgement awarding child support or visitation is or is not provided. To change the name of a child born outside of a marriage, clear and convincing evidence to the wellbeing and welfare of the child is needed.
Proving nonpaternity after the above conditions have been met requires a petitioner to prove that extrinsic fraud took place in one of the aforementioned proceedings. This leaves a variety of discovery and arguments that can be made about the specific aspects of a cohabitation or standing of a marriage. For DNA testing, nonpaternity would require additional tests that show the original to be false by error or design.
Paternity in the Courts has been predicated on biology, rather than any psychological support for a child.
Issues of Responsibility
Once paternity has been established, all the usual issues with support, visitation, and custody come into play as if the couple were negotiating a divorce or legal separation.
For father’s wishing to take custody of a child outside of wedlock or fighting for primary physical custody, the law weighs heavily towards the mother.
If you find yourself needing to fight for paternity, you will need to file a petition for Determination of Paternity. As with any legal matter dealing with children, these issues can be tricky and emotionally charged.
Call us at 702-706-3323 to get a knowledgeable and compassionate legal team on your side. We’ll walk you through the steps to determine paternity and fight for your rights including visitation and custody.