A Petition to Determine Paternity is filed with the Clerk of Court to assist either parent in acknowledging or establishing paternity, a timesharing schedule and child support.
Legal paternity can only be established through a Paternity Agreement signed by both parties or by court order. Once Paternity is established, the court may order payment of child support (both current and retroactive), a timesharing schedule, and possibly and award of attorney’s fees.
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, the mother, potential father, and child may need to submit to a DNA test to determine with certainty that he is 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.