How Is Paternity Established?

How Is Paternity Established?

Only in the rarest of cases do courts need to determine who the mother of a child is; nine months of pregnancy and hours of labor leading to the child’s birth tends to be a pretty strong indicator. Paternity, on the other hand, can be much trickier to establish, especially if they are unwilling to take on the responsibility of becoming a father. Whether or not the parents are married, establishing paternity and legally requiring a second person to support a child is a key part of limiting the number of mothers who need to go on welfare.

Uniform Parentage Act

The National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws approved the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA)[1] in 2000 before changing it again in 2002 to properly create a way to legally establish the parentage of a child, whether or not the parents are married. The UPA presumes a man to be the father of the child if he fulfills any of the criteria listed here:

  • He and the mother are married within 300 days of the child’s birth
  • He and the mother unsuccessfully attempted to get married before the child was born, but were prevented from doing so for any number of reasons. The child must also have been born within 300 days of the attempted marriage.
  • He and the mother get married after the child is born, he signs a paternity statement, is named on the birth certificate, or pays child support.
  • If he is not married to the mother, but the child is still a minor, and the man both openly claims the child as his own and the child lives in his house.

Declaring Paternity

Voluntary: Whether or not he is married to the mother, the simplest way that a man can establish paternity is to be present during the birth. All states are required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to offer the chance to establish paternity by signing an acknowledgement of paternity. If the man is not able to sign the acknowledgement while still at the hospital, they can still do so at a later date. These legal forms need to be signed for the father’s name to be included on the birth certificate. If he doesn’t complete the forms while at the hospital, his name may need to be added to the birth certificate at a later date.

Involuntary: One of the more common reasons a father would not want to voluntarily claim paternity is if he is attempting to get out of paying child support. If the father refuses to claim paternity, the case will most likely need to go to court. To begin the legal process, contact your local Department of Social Services office. They will be able to assist you in serving the presumptive father legal papers naming him as the father. If he continues to dispute the claim, he can request a DNA test. If the tests come back positive and he continues to fight, the case will most likely end up in court.

If the presumptive father refuses to cooperate, it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel. At Family Law Advocacy Group, our Rancho Cucamonga family law attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to provide you with the top-tier legal guidance you need.Visit our website for a free case consultation, or give us a call at (909) 992-0188 to set up a meeting with one of our Lawyers.

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