The issue of paternity usually involves parents that were not married at the time of the child’s birth or conception. If the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established. This can be done by obtaining a court order or by signing a Declaration of Paternity. Establishing paternity is required before the court can order custody, visitation and child support. If an alleged father does not admit that he is the parent, the court may order genetic testing.
Establishing parentage is also necessary for same-sex parents if they were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born.
In some cases, the law may determine that a child has more than two legal parents. This typically occurs when it would be detrimental to the child if additional parents were not legally recognized.
Because it can impact a parent’s rights and responsibilities as to a child, parentage actions are typically contentious. Whether you are seeking to establish parentage or defend against it, it is important that you are represented by an experienced family law attorney to guide you along what can be a complicated and overwhelming process.