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!

The Qualities Your Lawyer Needs to Make a Difference in Your Divorce

In some cases, the outcome of a divorce can seem like a foregone conclusion. You may believe that you are in the ideal position to receive full custody of your children, all the support you need, and all the property you feel is rightfully yours. Alternatively, you may be resigned to visitation, paying a large support bill, and seeing your property taken from you.

In both cases, you would probably feel a lawyer won’t be able to change the outcome of your divorce. You may feel it doesn’t matter which lawyer you choose or if you choose one at all. After all, it’s all set in stone already. However, this assumption is rarely accurate, and you will likely come to regret them later.

The truth is, the lawyer you choose can have a profound effect on your divorce. Getting the right lawyer can help ensure your property is divided fairly, child support and alimony payments are fair for both parties, and the child custody agreement suits the needs of everyone in your family.

How can a lawyer turn divorce proceedings around like that? There are several key qualities you want to see in your lawyer. If you find a lawyer that meets all those qualities, you may be able to either ensure you get that positive result you were expecting or else reach a much more positive outcome than you ever thought possible.

So, what are those qualities? You’ll find them all laid out in the best lawyers. Consider Adams Law Firm, which is one of the most successful family law firms in Houston. What has made them stand out? Let’s look a little closer.

  • Dedication: This can be the defining characteristic of a good divorce lawyer. Firms that handle family law cases see an almost unbelievable number of divorce cases come in every month of the year. It’s easy to put in a minimal effort, but a firm like Adams Law Firm actually turn people away when the load is too heavy. That allows them to dedicate more time to each client and each divorce case.
  • The right kind of experience: All the dedication in the world won’t do much for you if your lawyer doesn’t really know the law or know how to pursue your case. You need your lawyer to have experience like you find at Adams Law Firm, where they have been practicing for 35 years. That experience, importantly, is also the right kind of experience. They have the awards and reputation to show they’ve taken cases like your and achieved great results.
  • An interest in you: Beyond the above two qualities, you want your lawyer to actually care about you, your family, your divorce, and how the outcome will affect you. Adams Law Firm promises a personalized relationship with clients. That is exactly what you’re looking for.

There are lots of divorce lawyers out there, but getting the right one can make all the difference with your divorce. Use the qualities above to find the right divorce lawyer for you so you can stay connected to your kids and you don’t have to lose out on the life you’ve been living.

Marriage and Prenups

At a time when over 50% of marriages end in divorce, many people are turning to prenuptial agreements to make sure they will be protected if the marriage goes south. There is a lot of debate surrounding this practice, however, with some claiming that you would not need to draft a prenup if you truly loved and trusted your partner. Most of the time, prenups simply take care of how assets are divided, but could they also include more stringent rules that affect your life after divorce? The divorce between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes came with such a “lifestyle clause.”

According to a recent article on MarketWatch, there was allegedly a clause in the divorce settlement between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes that forbid her from dating another man for a certain period after the divorce. Some people speculate that this is why Katie and Jamie Foxx have only recently been spotted holding hands in public, even though many people have suspected the two to have been dating for about five years now. According to the American Bar Association Journal, the number of these “lifestyle clauses” are on the rise. According to a divorce lawyer in Atlanta, he has seen all kinds of things, such as “weight clauses” where a woman would not receive alimony if she gained a certain amount of weight after the wedding. In one case a wife limited the amount of football her husband could watch on Sunday, and in another, a husband limited the number of times his mother-in-law could visit. Some slightly more reasonable lifestyle clauses mandate that children be raised under a particular religion even if the couple gets divorced. Of course, all of these demands are nearly impossible to enforce, but in the event of a divorce, they could be used as leverage.

Instances like this make it easy to see why many people are not fond of the idea of a prenuptial agreement. Particularly when there are clauses that dictate how your partner should look, it comes off as incredibly shallow and demeaning to the other person. Of course, in the case of incredibly public figures like Tom Cruise, a lot of his net worth is based on his appearance, and he has to worry about all of the paparazzi running around that could potentially ruin his reputation with just one scathing article, whether it is true or not. Clauses about cheating in a relationship and how children should be raised are much more reasonable, especially if it is an issue for both parties.

Prenuptials can definitely be useful if you have a lot of assets you would like to protect, and many lawyers can help you draft one, like Kessler & Solomiany, LLC based in Atlanta. In many cases, prenups can save you thousands of dollars in attorney fees if your assets are divided up already. However, this does not mean that a prenup should be used to control every aspect of your partner’s life since these rules can rarely be enforced effectively.