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How Is Paternity Legally Established?

The number of paternity cases in the U.S. has dramatically increased over the past 20 years.  Today's blog post will address the legal establishment of the relationship between a man and a child.  

how is the parent-child relationship established?

Generally, the father-child relationship is established by (1) a court order making a finding that a man is the father; (2) a properly executed Acknowledgment of Paternity, signed by the mother and the father; or (3) an unrebutted legal presumption of the man's paternity.

Among these various mechanisms for the establishment of paternity, the most confusing and disputed is the presumption of paternity.  A man is presumed to be the father if (1) he is married to the mother and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the termination of the marriage; (2) he married the mother after the child's birth and (i) voluntarily asserted his paternity in an assertion filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics; (ii) is voluntarily named as the father on the child's birth certificate; (iii) promised in a record to support the child as his own; or (iv) during the first two years of the child's life, continuously resided with the child and represented to others that the child was his own. 

Even though the presumption of paternity exists, many men choose to pursue and obtain a Court order legally establishing the relationship via court order.  Often, the mother consents to the Court order.  If the mother disputes paternity, the Court generally orders that DNA testing be performed.  DNA testing is highly accurate, and is simple and inexpensive to perform.  


When a man is legally presumed to be the father, and for whatever reason chooses to dispute actual paternity, a lawsuit may be filed.  The Court will then order DNA testing to be completed.  If the DNA testing shows he is not the father, the Court will then sign an Order declaring his non-paternity.  Such an order has the effect of removing any actual or potential responsibility of the alleged father. 

If you're concerned about a possible paternity issue, you don't have to go through the journey alone.  Individuals need quality representation by a legal professional who is experienced in paternity cases.  Christiansen Law Firm assists men faced with paternity issues.  The family law attorneys at Christiansen Law Firm can guide you through the establishment or non-establishment of paternity.  Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your paternity matter.

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