If a child is born to a married couple, state law presumes that the husband is the baby’s father. For non-married parents, the law assumes that the father is the child’s parent as long as he signs an affidavit of parentage and thereby declares himself as such. If only the mother’s name appears on a birth certificate and there is a question of paternity, the father — or the alleged father — can file in court to request a DNA test to determine whether he is biologically related to the child.
However, it is not certain or guaranteed that a presumed father will get to have that DNA test ordered by the court. For example, if the child has been led to believe his or her whole life that this person is his or her father, a judge may not grant a DNA test if they determine that allowing the child’s relationship with them to continue uninterrupted is in their best interests. These cases can therefore become very complicated without proper legal counsel, so it is advisable to enlist the services of a skilled Montgomery County paternity lawyer.
The Importance of a Paternal Relationship
An unmarried father who wants to verify his paternity would have to ask a local court to order a DNA test, and it may be unlikely that the court would do so. A judge will consider many factors to determine whether a paternity test would be in the best interests of the child. For example, if a mother were to file for child support against her child’s father, and he decides that he wants to get a DNA test to prove that the child is not his, the presiding judge would need to evaluate whether the child has known that person to be the father for most of his or her life. The courts may ultimately find that he only requested a paternity test to avoid his financial obligations to his child.
A judge can even elect to keep the results of a paternity test unknown to the parties if otherwise revealing them would be at the detriment of the child’s best interests. As a result, it is very important that unmarried parents who are questioning paternity act immediately when their child is born. Verifying and acknowledging paternity as soon as possible can help avoid potential legal obstacles in the future.
If someone wants to be the father of a child, they should sign an affidavit of parentage and get on their birth certificate as soon as possible. After that point, it would be very difficult or impossible for someone else to be determined to be the father.
Legal Implications of a Paternity Test
If a paternity test is taken after the child has known the parent as a father for most of their life, it will not matter what the test reveals, and it will not be admissible in court. However, if the results of a paternity test which is taken before a paternal bond is established between a man and child indicate that they are not biologically related, he would no longer have any responsibilities — financial or otherwise — toward that child. A person who is determined with 99.9 percent certainty to be the father would be responsible for financially supporting their child.
Child Support Obligations
The results of a paternity test will determine whether the alleged father will be declared as such, as well as whether he will have any financial responsibilities toward the child. For example, a local family court may order him to pay child support to cover things like medical care, educational expenses, and any other child-raising costs.
A father would be obligated to financially support a child that is not biologically related to him if he signed an affidavit of parentage and/or actually claimed to be the father of the child. However, the presiding judge will ultimately determine whether such an arrangement adequately serves the child’s best interests.
The visitation rights of any parent are awarded in accordance with the best interests of the child and vary greatly on a case-by-case basis.
Contact a Montgomery County Paternity Attorney Today
You should contact a Montgomery County paternity lawyer before taking any action related to determining fatherhood to ensure that you know your rights. Attorney Tammy Begun can help you understand how your actions could ultimately affect your child’s life, as well as yours, forever. If you have questions about the paternity of a child, the applicability of relevant laws, and whether you have any financial responsibilities toward the child, do not hesitate to call our firm today.