Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support to their children. If the mother of a child, or a government welfare office, seeks child support from the alleged father of a child, paternity must be proven. Paternity can also be an issue in relation to adoption, inheritance, custody, and visitation.
An action to establish paternity is a civil proceeding governed by state law, and those laws vary from state to state. Most state laws require that paternity be proven by a "preponderance of the evidence," which means it’s more likely than not that the man is the father of the child. Other states require clear and convincing evidence of paternity.
DNA tests can be used to determine who is a child’s parent.
- The child’s genetic material is inherited from his or her biological parents.
- The child's genetic characteristics are compared to those of the mother.
- The characteristics of the child’s DNA not found in the mother came from the father.
- If the man tested does not have these genetic characteristics, he is not the father.
- If the man has such characteristics, the probability of his paternity is calculated. DNA testing can establish a father's paternity with over 99% accuracy.
If paternity is established, the father may be ordered to pay child support. A father not married to the child's mother will not normally be awarded custody if the mother is providing reasonable care. He may receive visitation rights and receive preference for custody over third parties, such as grandparents or prospective adoptive parents.
Whether you’re the mother of a child and want to establish paternity, or are a man who is allegedly the father of a child, we can help you through this legal process. Contact The Bloom Firm to learn about your rights and how we can protect them.