Austin Paternity LawyerLearn how the legal system handles paternity & the implications on child custody & support cases
Understanding Paternity in the Legal System
When unmarried parents have a child, one of the first steps in a custody case is to establish the father’s paternity. In some cases, a father is confident that the child belongs to him, and states that he is the father in a binding court order. Because of the enormous responsibilities that come with having a child, some parents want to be sure of the father’s paternity by submitting to genetic testing. Once paternity is conclusively established, the parties can begin working toward an agreement for the care and support of the child.
When in doubt, paternity is usually determined through genetic testing. A genetic testing lab collects DNA samples (using a cheek swab) from the alleged father and child, though results are usually available sooner if the mother submits to testing as well. A man can also be established as a child’s legal father by signing an acknowledgment of paternity filed with the bureau of vital statistics.
If a man is involved in litigation concerning his paternity, but doubts that he is the child’s father, he should always request genetic testing. Whether it’s through genetic testing or a signed acknowledgment, once a man is legally established as a child’s father, a parent-child relationship exists between the father and child.
The rules surrounding the acknowledgment of paternity, denial of paternity, and the effect of both are numerous and complicated. Furthermore, establishing paternity is only the first step, since the mere creation of the parent-child relationship does not in-and-of-itself dictate the terms of possession, access and support of the child involved in the suit. If you’re involved in a paternity suit, a knowledgeable attorney can answer your questions and help you navigate through an otherwise daunting legal process.