What is a paternity action?
A paternity action determines parental rights to a minor child or children who are born out of wedlock.
Approximately 50% of all children currently born in the United States are born to two parents who are not married to each other. Sometimes they live together and sometimes they do not. Sometimes they know each other and sometimes they do not.
The father of the child who is not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, even if he knows that he is the father, is not the legal father of the child unless paternity has been legally established. Such a father may encounter many problems in having a relationship with his child. As an example, if the mother wants to relocate the child’s residence and there is no legally established father, she can relocate the child any time she chooses. Mother’s also encounter problems prior to paternity being established. Child support cannot be legally established without a legal father/child designation. Many other problem issues for both parents are as varied as life itself but can include entitlement to spending time with the child, legal inheritance rights, and tax dependency exemptions to name just a few.
Parentage is automatic for the mother because her relationship to the child is obvious at birth. This is not the case with the father. Luckily, modern paternity testing is typically at least 99% accurate. For children who are born to parents who are married, legal paternity is automatically presumed to be with the father, and this is a very strong presumption. Neither parent has to do anything. If the two parents of the child are not married at the time of birth they may agree in writing that the man is the father and they can enter into a binding form agreement. In such case paternity is established.
If both parties cannot agree to paternity, then they can take a paternity test. If the test is positive the parties can then agree to paternity or a court will determine the relationship after reviewing the test results and any other relevant evidence. Along with the establishment of a father’s parental rights with a child come both legally enforceable rights and responsibilities. These include rights to spend time with your child and the responsibility to provide financial support for your child. Other rights and responsibilities also arise.
Why would someone need an attorney to help with a paternity matter?
The establishment of paternity goes a lot more quickly and easily when both parties agree. If you use an attorney, you can make sure that you get all of your record-keeping done correctly, and you do not find out years later that required filings and birth certificates have not been properly issued.
If the parties disagree on paternity, using an attorney is very helpful because they know how to make sure that the determination of paternity is done correctly. Once paternity is established, you can use an attorney to make sure that your rights and obligations associated with the sharing of a minor child are correctly parceled out between the parents.
What experience does the Anton Legal Group have handling paternity suits?
The Anton Legal Group has approximately 30 years of experience with paternity actions.
How does the Anton Legal Group stand apart from other firms?
We have a lot of experience. We understand how to get the parties from the beginning of the process to the end of the process. Should paternity be established, we understand what people’s reasonable rights and obligations are for their child.
Recently, our firm had a paternity action where the father was denied rights to his minor child, now approximately one year of age, for almost the entire first year of the child’s life. He spent perhaps two days with the child during the entire first year, though he wanted to spend much more. Missing out on the first year of a child’s life is a terrible thing for a child who does not get to appropriately bond with the parent in the normal way. This client ended up getting approximately 50% of the time with the minor child. Both the father and his child would have been much better off if he had not delayed for a year, thus losing the benefit, for both him and the child, of having that first year of more normal bonding.
If you have any questions about paternity or need to file or defend against a paternity action, then please call the Anton Legal Group at (813) 443‑5249 today.