How Is Paternity Established?
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It is important to establish paternity accurately for a host of reasons. In addition to the emotional and practical reasons that are fairly obvious, there are legal rights and responsibilities attached to being named as a child’s biological parent. Once paternity has been established, issues related to child custody, parental rights generally, adoption, child support, etc. may be explored with the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney. For example, our firm has extensive experience managing family legal challenges and would be happy to speak with you about any questions and concerns you may have. But before these issues may be effectively addressed, paternity needs to be established and formalized.
If You Are Married
If you are a married male and your wife gives birth to a child, that child is legally presumed to be your biological son or daughter. If you want to contest that presumption, you should consider scheduling a consultation with our firm. We can then explore the best way to contest paternity and discuss any other family legal issues you may be grappling with. If you wish for the presumption to stand, you do not need to take additional legal action at this time.
If You Are Unmarried
If you are in an unmarried and wish to voluntarily declare paternity, you may generally do so by signing specific legal documentation to that effect. Our firm can help you to sort through this paperwork in order to make sure that it will be considered complete and legally enforceable by the courts. In general, voluntary declarations may be made via a child?s birth certificate and/or filing a formal declaration with the court. At that time, we can also help you navigate any additional legal matters that may affect you and your new addition.
Depending on a family’s circumstances, paternity may need to be established by a court-ordered paternity test. These are usually conducted using DNA evidence processed after a mother or a state child support agency has filed a paternity suit. Depending on which state is governing the process, a child support agency may file a claim at no cost to the mother. Usually these claims are brought when fathers refuse to acknowledge paternity and child support payments need to be ordered on the child’s behalf. With that said, it is possible for a potential father to submit to DNA testing without a court order. Please ask any questions you may have about this process when you speak with our firm directly.
Legal Assistance and Support Is Available
If you have questions about establishing paternity, please consider scheduling a consultation with our firm. Depending on your unique situation, it may make sense to take one approach versus another. In addition, if you need assistance navigating issues like custody, visitation or child support once paternity has been established, find a family law lawyer in Plano at Scroggins Law Group who can assist you with those legal challenges as well. Paternity claims are understandably stressful and can inspire a myriad of frustrations. Please understand that you do not need to navigate the legal side of this reality alone.
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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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