Establishing paternity

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
'Paternity' means fatherhood. 'Establishing paternity' means identifying the father of a child and legally determining that he is the father. Establishing paternity recognizes a father's rights and responsibilities. When the biological father of a child is married to the biological mother at the time the child is born, he's legally the child's father and no further activities to establish paternity are necessary. If the parents aren't married when a child is born, both parents should sign a 'voluntary statement of paternity.' This form will place the father's name on the baby's birth certificate, establish paternity, and allow the custodial parent to seek a child support order if needed. The statement of paternity can be signed and filed with the state at any time after the child is born. Paternity can be established even if the statement of paternity is not signed. One or both parents may contact their county child support agency to start a paternity action. The child support agency will notify the named father to appear in court. If he says in court that he is the father, paternity is established and the court may order support. The court may also decide custody and visitation rights. If there's a question of who the father is, the court will order genetic tests to determine the child's father. If the tests prove that a man is not the father, the court will dismiss the case against him. If the tests show there is a 99 percent or higher probability that he is the father, but he still denies paternity, the court will set a date for a hearing.
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