Establishing paternity is sometimes confusing but it’s an important step for unmarried couples in determining the biological father of their child. It’s also important in instances where the couple is no longer together. Establishing paternity helps the child, the mother, and the putative or alleged father in different ways, but it is viewed mostly as a positive event. Determining the biological father also protects a man who has a child support order for a child who is not his.
Is the Putative Father Ever Considered the Legal Father Automatically?
Yes. This happens when the child is born to a married couple — the husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child. Another instance of when a man is presumed to be the legal father is when the child is born within 300 days after the marriage ends.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Finding out if the putative father is actually the biological father can benefit the child in the following ways:
- The biological father’s name will now appear on the birth certificate
- The child can receive child support from both parents
- The child knows who the biological parent is, which gives the child an identity
- The child can find out if there are any medical issues in the father’s family
- If the mother agrees, the child can take the last name of the father
- The child can have a relationship with the father
- The child can inherit from the father and receive social security benefits, and
- The child may be entitled to veteran’s benefits, life insurance and health insurance from the father
Establishing paternity also benefits the mother because she can:
- Receive child support from the father
- Have another parent help her raise and be responsible for the child
- See that the child is well-adjusted by having two involved parents, and
- Be secure in knowing that the child has a legal father
Establishing paternity benefits the father because he can:
- Have a relationship with the child
- Have visitation or parenting time with the child
- Have a say in important decisions affecting the child, and
- Give the child his last name if the mother agrees to it
How is Paternity Established?
Paternity can be established in one of the following ways:
- By the putative father signing a paternity affidavit in the hospital within the first 72 hours after birth
- By the putative father signing a paternity affidavit at the local health department after the 72 hours has passed
- By going to court to have a judge declare that the putative father is the biological father
How is DNA Testing Done?
DNA testing used to be done by having a blood test. Now, the tests are usually done by use of a cheek swab, which is like a cotton swab. The test takes a few minutes and isn’t painful. DNA testing must be performed by an accredited laboratory.
If There is No Paternity Affidavit, Who Can Bring the Case in Court?
A paternity case can be brought in court by:
- The mother
- A pregnant woman
- The putative father to prove he is the father
- The putative father to prove he is not the father
- Both the mother and putative father together
- The child until the child’s twentieth birthday
- A prosecuting attorney, or
- The Division of Family and Children
Carmel Paternity Lawyers Can Help You With Your Paternity Case
Our paternity attorney has experience with paternity cases for mothers, children and putative fathers. An attorney offers guidance, support and has the wisdom that comes with knowledge of paternity cases. Joshua Hains can bring your case to court for you. Contact Hains Law, LLC to learn about paternity, DNA testing and how we can help you with your paternity case.