Your child has just been born and he is the apple of your eye. From his azure eyes to the dimples on his cheeks, he has at least that part of your face. His nose, ears and chin, however have not been inherited by you. And the jury is still out on whose mouth he has — yours or the biological father.
Speaking of the bio dad, there is one problem: you aren’t certain who this individual may be. You have a good idea, but there is always the chance that a certain someone else provided the seed that penetrated your egg to make the little bundle of joy you are holding in your arms.
Here’s how to make a determination of paternity in most jurisdictions:
1. Birth Certificate. On the birth certificate you list the baby’s name, the mother;s name and, if known, the father’s name. If there is no dispute who the father is and that man is taking responsibility for paternity, then his name is listed. At this point there is no further question as paternity has been established.
2. Voluntarily Admitting Paternity. Maybe the bio dad is not listed on the birth certificate or other documentation. If he admits to fathering your child and wants to affirm same, then he can complete an acknowledgement of paternity with social services. Another option is to appear in court and swear under oath that he is the father of the child.
3. Presumption of Paternity. In certain circumstances paternity is presumed. For instance, if a couple is married and has a child, then is assumed that the husband is also the father. However, if the husband suspects that his wife has committed adultery and gotten pregnant, then that could lead to him contesting paternity. If that is the case, the legal procedures at this point are best handled by an attorney.
4. Paternity Through Adoption. Another way that paternity is established is through adoption. Here, a man adopts the child with his wife or agrees to parent the child his wife had from another relationship. Once paternity is claimed, a whole host of responsibilities come with it. Those responsibilities include the welfare of the child and may extend to child support, providing for his education, covering medical bills and more.
The Court Process
If it comes to it, a paternity case may be pursued by social services and then handled by the court system if no resolution is determined. If the father admits paternity, then support can be addressed.
The court system becomes involved only when a petition has been served. Typically, this involves scheduling a preliminary hearing, then serving a summons to the alleged bio dad.
Once the court date arrives, the filing party must appear at the hearing. If she fails to arrive, then the case is usually dropped. If she appears and the bio dad does not, then a summons for his arrest can be made.
If both the filer and the non-custodial parent are present, then the alleged bio dad can claim paternity or ask to have a paternity test. Typically, if the man is not found to be the father, then he pays nothing. If it has been determined that he is the father, then he’ll have to reimburse social services explains the DNA Diagnostic Center.
If you know that you are not the bio dad, then you need to assert your claim. Taking credit for being the father is entirely up to you, but it also comes with responsibilities. You may be putting a burden on your shoulders you simply are not able to carry, so think this through carefully. Consulting with an attorney is a wise choice too.