Paternity: Who’s the Daddy?

Gentlemen who father a child out of wedlock are responsible for the child’s emotional and financial welfare. A paternity action enables unmarried parents to resolve the same issues faced by parents in a dissolution action, with the exception of property division issues.

A paternity action commences when one party files a “Complaint To Establish Parental Relationship” with the court. This action establishes the identity of the child’s parents. Once parentage is established, the court proceeds to settle custody, visitation, and child support issues using the same codes and case law applicable to parents in dissolution actions.

If paternity is contested, the court can order the mother, the child, and the alleged father to take blood tests.

If the alleged father refuses to take blood tests, the court has the power to treat him as the child’s father and to proceed with custody, visitation, and support issues.

In some cases, even where blood tests show that the alleged father is also the biological father, the court's power to order visitation and support is limited by a statutory presumption. For example, when it is shown that the child’s mother was living with her husband at the time the child was conceived, there is a statutory presumption that the child is a child of that marriage. This is true even if the alleged father desperately wants to have visitation with the child and is ready to pay child support.

If you would like to initiate a paternity action, or if one has been filed naming you as the father, please call our office. We will gladly invite you in for a free consultation.