Do I need a Paternity Lawyer?
A paternity lawyer is a wise investment if you find yourself in a situation where your rights as a parent, or your child’s right to a parental relationship, are at risk.
- Are you married and expecting a child that is not your spouse’s? Or are you expecting a child with somebody who is married to another person? A child born to a married person is legally presumed to be a child of the marriage, and this could create serious legal ramifications for you and the child.
- Is the other parent of your child shirking their financial duty to your child? Establishing legal parentage will be the first step before child support can be established.
- Do you suspect a child is yours but have been denied the right to be the child’s parent? Legal parentage is necessary before pursuing visitation.
Paternity and Parentage
It’s very important to understand that having a paternity test that conclusively determines the father of a child is not enough to legally establish parentage. Until the father has been found under the law to be adjudicated the father, the legal relationship does not exist.
There are two ways to establish legal parentage.
- Signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form provided by your state. This is a shortcut to get the father’s name onto the birth certificate without the need for genetic testing. This is normally signed at the hospital, and is not typically a form that is offered when a child is born into a marriage.
- Establishing legal parentage judicially through the courts. DNA testing is not required to establish legal parentage if both parties agree that paternity is not in dispute. Admission of Parentage forms and waivers of DNA testing can be filed to establish legal parentage judicially without the use of DNA testing.
Until the judge adjudicates that a person is the legal father, a paternity test alone does establish legal fatherhood.
Court Ordered Paternity Test
Paternity testing can be court ordered. Either side in a case can request that a DNA test be performed.
The person responsible for paying for a court ordered paternity test should be spelled out specifically in the court order. One party can be held responsible for the costs entirely, or both parties can be required to split the costs. It is within the judge’s discretion to decide who pays, and often judges rule that the party requesting the test be required to cover the cost. The court can also order that the costs be covered by one party depending on the outcome of the test results.
Paternity Test After Signing Birth Certificate
A person has 60 days after signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (often people refer to this as “signing the birth certificate”) to rescind their voluntary acknowledgement. The voluntary right of rescission typically allows the signer to change his mind for any reason.
After 60 days, typically the only way to challenge a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is in court by showing duress, fraud, or material mistake of fact. There is a high standard to meet to prove these things and you’ll need an attorney to guide you through this process if you want to challenge a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or if your child’s legal father is challenging this document. A DNA test that shows paternity was mistaken is not always enough to reverse a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
Paternity Test While Pregnant
Testing for paternity before the child is born can be helpful to emotionally prepare for the child’s birth, and it’s also helpful in planning for your legal options as well.
Non-invasive prenatal paternity testing is an option that may be available at a lab near you. Unlike past methods of prenatal paternity testing such as amniocentesis, non-invasive prenatal paternity testing uses blood or cheek-swab samples that will not carry a risk of miscarriage.
Limitations to testing while pregnant:
- There may be timeframe limitations – some tests cannot be performed prior to 7 weeks of pregnancy.
- Testing may not be able to determine paternity if the possible fathers have a close genetic relationship.
- Non-invasive prenatal paternity testing may not be possible if the pregnancy is twins or multiples.
While paternity testing can be performed prior to the child’s birth, you’ll be limited in what you can accomplish in court prior to the child’s birth. Knowing ahead of time will help you to get organized, plan ahead, and budget for the future. You’ll want to consult with an attorney about your specific circumstances to see if it’s wise to file a case prior to the child’s birth.
Rockford Paternity Lawyer
If you need to establish paternity, a Pro Legal Care LLC attorney can help you. Paternity, custody, and family court cases are the focus of our practice.
Your first step is to schedule a free lawyer consultation with us by contacting us online or calling (815) 200-8802. During that appointment, the attorney will go over the details of your situation and lay out the paths you can take to achieve your goals through the family court system.