When establishing paternity becomes more complicated outside of the norm, it is best to seek the advice of a family attorney to ensure that you take the necessary steps to establish or correct paternity.

Why Establishing Paternity Matters?

If you are not married to the mother of our child, then paternity should be established. This will help to begin the process of establishing your rights as a father and is the first step towards gaining court sanctioned visitation or custody. Mothers seeking to obtain child support from the father of their child will need to provide proof of paternity. In either case, the birth certificate is usually the primary method of showing paternity but in some cases, the father may not be listed on the birth certificate – or has reason to request removal from the birth certificate.

How to Establish Paternity

The best way to establish paternity is through naming the father on your baby’s birth certificate either done at the hospital at the time of birth or at a later time. This is considered a voluntary declaration of paternity. Both parents need to sign the voluntary declaration of paternity before adding the father’s name to the birth certificate. Another way to establish paternity is by getting a court order for a DNA test. Upon positive identification of paternity through DNA, the father can be added to the birth certificate.

Disestablishing Paternity

In the event that a voluntary declaration of paternity was made and later falls into question, the male could file a petition to disestablish paternity. This petition can be filed before or after child support requirements have gone into effect.

The petition to disestablish paternity must include the following:

  • An affidavit completed by the petitioner stating that recent knowledge has brought his paternity into question.
  • A DNA test with results dated within 90 days from the date of the petition showing that the petitioner is statistically unlikely to be the father, or an affidavit stating that the petitioner did not have access to the child in order to perform the test prior to filing. In the event that the child was not available for testing, the petitioner can file a request for court ordered DNA testing.
  • Proof that the petitioner is current on all child support payments required of them or substantial cause for delinquency.

The courts will grant a disestablishment of paternity if the above conditions have been met and none of the following are true:

The male petitioner…

  • Adopted the child
  • Prevented the true biological father from asserting his legal paternal rights
  • Was married to the mother of the child and the child was conceived through artificial insemination
  • Married the mother after learning he may not have been the biological father
  • Made a sworn statement to be the child’s father or agreed to be named on the birth certificate after learning he may not be the biological father
  • Made a written promise to support the child and was subsequently required to do so because of that promise
  • Was previously directed by another state agency or court order to submit to a DNA test but failed to submit to it
  • Signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity as provided in s. 742.10(4)

Who Can File a Paternity Case in Court?

Aside from the mother or pregnant woman, someone else is also given the liberty to file a paternity case in the court, including the man who believes he is the father of a child, the prosecuting attorney, the father and mother together, the division of children and families, and the child themselves.

If any of the persons listed above seek paternity, the prosecuting attorney should file a paternity action. He will represent the child. He can file the paternity case with or without a payment. A paternity test may be done to decide whether the man is the child’s biological father.