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Establishing Paternity

Understanding Paternity

Paternity is the legal process of establishing the father of a child. By establishing paternity, fathers have all the same parental rights and obligations as the mother, including the right to request custody and parenting time. Even if parents are living together or planning their wedding, it is important to establish paternity. In the event that their relationship deteriorates, the parties, while on good terms, will have established certain rights and responsibilities for the child. In addition, legal paternity establishes rights to social security, inheritance, veterans and life and health insurance benefits.

A man is presumed to be a child’s biological father if:

  1. The child was born during a marriage between the man and the child’s biological mother, or no later than 300 days after the marriage’s termination by death, annulment, or dissolution;
  2. The man and the child’s biological mother attempted to marry but the marriage was void or voidable, and the child was born during the attempted marriage or no later than 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, or dissolution; or
  3. The man undergoes a genetic test that indicates with at least a 99% probability that the man is the child’s biological father.

Paternity is legally established through the execution of a paternity affidavit, or filing in court to establish paternity.

The Paternity Affidavit

Both the mother and father must sign a paternity affidavit. The paternity affidavit can be executed within 72 hours of the birth at the hospital where the child was born or at the local health department in the jurisdiction where the child was born, at any time before the child has reached the age of emancipation. It is important to note that if a man has signed a paternity affidavit and then wants genetic testing, he must request it within 60 days of the date he signed the paternity affidavit.

When any doubt exists regarding paternity, a man should not sign the paternity affidavit and should have a DNA/genetic test completed by an approved laboratory instead. After 60 days, the court, without certain findings, will not set aside a paternity affidavit and the man is financially responsible for the child.

Either party may utilize the paternity affidavit and have the court conduct a hearing to address the issues including, but not limited to, confirming paternity and establishing custody, parenting time and child support.

In the event that a signed paternity affidavit does not exist, the mother, alleged father, or a prosecuting attorney may file a paternity action in the county in which the child, mother or alleged father resides. At an initial hearing, the mother and alleged father may agree to paternity or request a genetic test. The genetic testing must be performed by a qualified expert and approved by the court. The court will not accept a home paternity test to establish paternity. In the event the genetic test confirms paternity with 99%, the court will then address issues discussed above.

Contact Hains Law, LLC

If you are looking to establish paternity, place your case in the hands of Carmel paternity lawyer Joshua R. Hains. Attorney Hains is an experienced family lawyer who will help you navigate the legal process. Contact the office today to set up an initial consultation.