In situations where two people have a child and are not married, either party may file a Paternity case. A Paternity judgment is a court order signed by a judge declaring a man to be the legal father of a child. The judgment will also lay out a timesharing schedule and child support. Today we are talking about the process of establishing paternity.
Legal paternity is established by court order. Either the parties agree the father is the biological parent of the child or a DNA test is administered to prove (or disprove) paternity. Once paternity is established, the court will order payment of child support (in some cases retroactive), a timesharing schedule, and possibly and award of attorney’s fees. The court may also order the Father contribute to any hospital bills from the birth of the child.
If an individual believes he is not the father of a child, he may contest the proceeding and request a DNA test. In this action, potential father and child will submit to a DNA test to determine he is (or is not) the father.
A Paternity proceeding follows the same steps as a divorce proceeding. The Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief is served on the Respondent, and the Respondent has 20 days to file a written response with the Clerk of Court. The parties then exchange financial disclosure (commonly referred to as mandatory disclosure) and attend mediation. If the parties cannot come to an agreement at mediation, the case moves forward to trial.
If you or someone you know is involved in a paternity dispute and needs legal representation. schedule a consultation using the link below.