All About Paternity Actions

Divorce proceedings are stressful enough as it is. Not only does one have to deal with the emotional pulls that come with ending a marriage, but one has to begin a process that is long and draining — physically, mentally, and financially. It’s safe to say that most people would rather avoid going through a divorce. Unfortunately, life happens, and for a wide variety of reasons — divorce is often unavoidable.

When the two parties involved in a divorce have children together, that makes matters even more complicated. Ironing out custody and visitation rights can add weeks to an already long process. A less discussed matter when it comes to children and divorce is paternity actions. Keep reading to find out more about paternity actions in the event that you or a loved one need one in the future.

What is a Paternity Action?

First — the basics. A paternity is action is a legal process that designates a man to be the father of a child that is 18 years or younger. While there are some rare exceptions, the only parties that are eligible to file for a paternity action are: the mother, the alleged father, the child, and the state.

Why File a Paternity Action?

That is a long list of reasons why someone may file a paternity action:

  • The alleged father may not believe he is actually the father
  • The mother may seek child support and must prove the man is her child’s father
  • A man wishing to gain custody or visitation rights by proving paternity
  • A state agency wishing to recover child support from the child’s alleged father
  • A child wishing to know the identity of their father

Of course, other reasons persist as well.

The Process

No matter what the reason is for the paternity action, there is a standard process to establish paternity under the law:

First, the petitioner files their claim, outlining why they believe the man in question is the father of the child.
After the petition is filed and the alleged father is notified, the father has a certain time period in which he can respond to the petition in writing. He has three main options: (1) agree that you are the father and allow the law to name him as such (2) Contest allegations (3) Acknowledge that he could be the father and request a DNA test
If DNA testing proves a child-parent relationship exists, the court will begin the process of determining the child support payments needed and custody/visitation rights.

If you have been met with a paternity action petition and have any doubts that you are the child’s father, it is imperative that you contest the allegations. If you were to agree that you were the father and DNA testing later proves that isn’t true, it is unlikely the court will reverse their ruling. Paternity action attorneys like the lawyers at Alexander & Associates are the best people for you to reach out to when you’ve been served with a paternity action. Don’t attempt to represent yourself!

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