Paternity is an immensely important personal and financial matter, and both an individual child and society as a whole can benefit greatly when a father is involved in a child’s life in a meaningful way. You may have questions regarding what establishing paternity will mean for you, or perhaps you are seeking to initiate or fight a paternity suit. An experienced North Carolina paternity lawyer at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division can help you pursue documentation and take legal actions regarding the factors of particular interest to you, which may also affect any and all parties involved.
The term “paternity” has several meanings, both genetic and legal. If a child is born within a marriage, the husband of the mother is, by law, the legal father. However, when an unmarried woman gives birth, she may or may not name a father on the birth certificate to establish paternity.
Neither of the above actually establishes biological (genetic) paternity. If the biological father is not the legal father, another legal mechanism is necessary for the biological father to establish legal paternity. Similarly, when a man wants to adopt a child, he will need for the court to award him legal paternity. In these cases, establishing legal paternity is essential for a father to have full parental rights in caring for a child.
Many men consider utilizing paternity testing to prove they are not a child’s biological father, which helps them to avoid paying child support. In contrast, other men want to establish legal paternity so they can commit to providing a child with a more stable upbringing.
There are several reasons you may be interested in establishing paternity:
If your situation involves any of the above or you are facing an issue that involves establishing legal paternity, contact our legal team to schedule a case review.
If a man was not married to the mother at the time of the birth of your child, he may establish paternity by marrying the mother after the child’s birth and signing a legitimation form. This will establish the same parental rights as if the father was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. If you are the mother of the child and you wish to seek child support from the child’s putative father without marrying, you may file a paternity action to hold the putative father to his parental responsibility.
If both parents are present at the time of the birth of the child, they may sign an Affidavit of Parentage to establish the paternity of the father. For fathers who want to fight for their parental rights, they may file a paternity action.
If either parent wants to file a paternity action, the petitioner must file a petition to the court, along with documentation. The court may order DNA testing from the alleged father if he contests the paternity action. If the court determines that he is the biological father, it could require that he pay child support to the mother.
When a parent paying child support intentionally reduces their income or employment to claim that they can’t afford child support payments, the court may impute income according to that person’s previous earning ability. The court may also impute income if an involuntary reduction in earning capacity is due to that parent’s own bad choices, such as choosing to engage in criminal activity.
A parent who involuntarily experiences a reduction in their earning capacity by layoff, work injury, or other issue needs to document their case so they will be able to demonstrate they have made efforts to improve their ability to pay. Contact our child support attorney team to schedule a case review.
A legal father has the same parental rights as a biological father. When you adopt a child—either with a partner or alone—you become their legal parent. When a man’s wife has a child within their marriage in North Carolina, the state considers him to be the legal father regardless of whether or not he is the biological father.
Occasions arise when a man wants to become a child’s legal father even when he isn’t the biological father. If you meet the love of your life and they already have children from a previous relationship, you may consider adopting their children upon marrying your spouse.
If you were the presumed (and legal) father of a child and you divorced the mother, you may have paid several years of child support before learning that you were not the child’s biological father. In this case, you will need to provide the court with documentation (involving DNA testing) that you are not the biological father in order to be relieved of child support responsibilities.
Whether you seek to dispute paternity or verify it, our experienced paternity legal team can guide you. Contact us today at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division in Wilmington, NC to schedule a case review.
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