Paternity Law

Guide to Paternity Rights



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Paternity law, or “fatherhood law,” is the legal area dealing with establishing or disputing fatherhood (also known as "paternity"). Common reasons for paternity disputes usually include determining a potential father's rights and obligations with regard to a child or establishing rights related to inheritance after a death.

Traditionally, a child born to the wife during a marriage under common law is legally presumed to be the husband's child. This presumption can sometimes be rebutted through the use of scientific evidence conclusively proving whether the husband is the father or not. In the case of unwed fathers, on the other hand, a man can voluntarily acknowledge paternity of a child, or the mother or a government agency can file a petition for a determination of paternity against the presumed father. Additionally, in some cases paternity can be determined by the courts by virtue of the doctrine of estoppel.

Where paternity of a child is in question, a party can ask the court to determine paternity of one or more possible fathers (called “putative fathers”). The “putative fathers” are typically identified based on sworn statements of the mother or other witnesses. Should the paternity of a father be determined, the court may enter an order presumptively identifying the father and bestowing upon him all the rights and obligations inherent to fatherhood. On the other hand, if a putative father wishes to avoid a determination of paternity, he may file a disavowal action. If successful, a disavowal action relieves the former putative father of legal responsibility for the child, including child support and custody obligations.

The resources below will provide you with additional information about paternity laws. Moreover, should you need to assistance in either establishing or disavowing paternity, you can find an attorney in your area under the “Law Firms” tab, above.

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Articles About Paternity Law

  • Structuring Florida Parenting Plans to Provide for Emergency Care for Asthmatic Children
    When Florida parents of asthmatic children are going through a dissolution of their marriage the circuit courts must approve a parenting plan which provides for emergency medical care and medical decision making as it relates to the minor asthmatic child.
  • Protecting Your Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder Child and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
    No conscientious parent would allow their special needs child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder( ADHD) to be abused in a Florida dissolution of marriage case paternity case or complex custody matter. If you have a sense that your special needs child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is the subject of abuse then you must address that issue with your Florida family lawyer.
  • Post-Dissolution of Marriage Considerations for Special Needs Children Subject to Parenting Plan Litigation
    In order to properly address the issues that will be facing parents of special needs children following the dissolution of a Fort Lauderdale Florida marriage it is imperative that the litigating parties either employ a Broward County special needs divorce attorney or make their Fort Lauderdale dissolution of marriage attorney aware of those certain and uniquely specific realities that effect their child and impair their ability to parent, support and time share for that child.
  • What Are the Possible Legal Issues Related to Sperm Donors?
    More and more Americans are turning to in vitro fertilization as a means of conceiving. Sometimes the sperm donor for these procedures is known, sometimes he is not. In either instance, what are the possible legal issues related to both the mother and biological father as the sperm donor?
  • What Happens to a California Child Support Order When the Baby Mama Marries the Father?
    The shorthand answer to that question is that the prior court order for child support is automatically extinguished. That is what the 4th circuit of the California appellate court recently held in the 2012 case of In re Marriage of Wilson & Bodine (2012) 207 Cal. App. 4th. 768.
  • My Ex Is Moving Away With The Children, What Can I Do?
    You are divorced, or were never married, but have children with your ex. You share custody or, at the very least have visitation rights. But now your ex tells you s/he is moving someplace with the kids that would make seeing your children as regularly as you would like much more difficult.
  • How to Establish Paternity in Child Support and Custody Disputes
    When a married couple has a child, most jurisdictions presume that the husband is the father of the child (even if he is not). When an unmarried couple has a child, on the other hand, it is usually necessary to establish paternity as soon as possible after the baby is born. This protects the mother, the baby, and the father, by establishing everyone's rights with regard to one another, such as visitation, support, and inheritance.
  • Understanding New Jersey Adoption Process
    Are you a New Jersey resident considering adoption? Or are you involved in a dispute trying to prevent someone else from adopting your child? In either case, it is important to understand the process of adoption and its legal ramifications.
  • Do Grandparents and Other Family Members Have Visitation Rights
    The concept of grandparent visitation rights is a fairly new one. Historically, only parents could ask for visitation rights, but now states allow a variety of different family members to ask for visitation of related children. Below is a brief state-by-state summary of grandparent visitation rights as of the date of publication of this article. Should you have a question regarding visitation rights, you should contact a local family law attorney.
  • Factors Affecting Child Custody and Visitation
    When determining which parent should have primary custody, whether custody should be shared, and how much visitation each parent should have, courts must look at a number of factors. Of course, these factors vary from state to state, but the overall question is generally the same: “What is in the best interests of the child?" Answering the questions below will give you insight into the specific questions courts may ask to determine which parent (or both) should be granted custody.
  • Articles on HG.org Related to Family Law

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.

Paternity Law - US

  • ABA - Center on Children and the Law

    The ABA Center on Children and the Law, a program of the Young Lawyers Division, aims to improve children's lives through advances in law, justice, knowledge, practice and public policy. Our areas of expertise include child abuse and neglect, child welfare and protective services system enhancement, foster care, family preservation, termination of parental rights, parental substance abuse, adolescent health, and domestic violence.

  • Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

    The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities.

  • DNA Diagnostic Center - Chain of Custody Paternity Test

    As an AABB-accredited laboratory, we perform paternity tests and other DNA tests using a Chain of Custody documentation process to ensure results will be legally defensible, in case the results will be used in courts and other government agencies. This process proves and satisfies the following legal requirements: * Samples are collected by an impartial third party, such as a clinic or laboratory. * The individuals tested are positively identified (i.e. They present a government-issued ID, and they are photographed and fingerprinted for records.). * The samples are carefully tracked and matched to each test participant throughout the entire DNA testing process.

  • DNA Testing - Establishment of Paternity

    Paternity testing is DNA analysis to determine whether or not a given man is the biological father of a given child. There are many different reasons people want to have a paternity test. Sometimes alleged fathers are told many years later that a previous relationship resulted in the birth of a child, and they want to make sure they are actually the biological father.

  • National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC)

    The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) is a service of the Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Office of Family Assistance (OFA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NRFC captures information about policies, priorities, trends, research findings, promising practices, and emerging lessons from the field and helps key audiences translate that knowledge into policies and practices that make a difference for fathers, children, families, and communities.

  • NRFC State Profiles

    The Clearinghouse is committed to providing access to a comprehensive listing of resources and publications related to Responsible Fatherhood. As such, some of the documents in our collection represent historical perspective. Users should make a note of the date of publication for their selected resources. These results may include documents distributed by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) that are produced by the NRFC or other organizations.

  • Paternity Law - Wikipedia

    In law, paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child usually based on several factors. At common law, a child born to the wife during a marriage is the husband's child under the "presumption of legitimacy", and the husband is assigned complete rights, duties and obligations as to the child. The presumption, however, can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, at least prior to a formal court ruling involving the putative paternity (often this is a decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation). Jurisdictions differ widely on when a judgment establishing paternity or a support obligation based on the presumption can be set aside on the grounds that the husband was not in fact the father.

  • Paternity Leave and FMLA

    The United States has no federal laws requiring companies to grant paid paternity leave to new fathers. As of June 2008, only California had laws in place granting paid paternity leave (called family leave), though laws have been proposed in several other states. Additionally, some progressive companies offer paid leave to both mothers and fathers following the birth or adoption of a new child. But in most cases, new fathers will have to take unpaid paternity leave.

  • US Department of Health and Human Services - Paternity Establishment

    Under early common law, a child born out of wedlock was considered filius nullius -- the child of no one. If paternity was established at all, the parents suffered the indignities of criminal “bastardy” proceedings, and the child had few legal rights. Perhaps prodded by a soaring increase in out-of-wedlock births, society has begun to recognize the social and fiscal costs of ignoring these children. Starting in 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a series of cases that precluded discrimination against this population of children, by States or the Federal Government, without a compelling State interest.

Organizations Related to Paternity Law

  • American Coalition for Fathers and Children

    We, the members of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, hereby dedicate ourselves and our efforts to the creation of a family law system, legislative system, and public awareness which promotes equal rights for ALL parties affected by divorce, and the breakup of a family or establishment of paternity. It is our belief through our involvement and dedication, we can have a positive effect on the emotional and psychological well-being of children.

  • Divorce Source - Paternity Issues

    Paternity testing is a major US industry. Between 1970 and 1996, the number of divorced persons has more than quadrupled, from 4.3 million to 18.3 million according to a 1998 report by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau. Hundreds of thousands of paternity tests are performed each year.

  • National Fatherhood Initiative

    We're a non-profit organization that is getting to the root of the issues facing your community by educating and engaging dads. Today, one out of every three children goes to bed each night without their biological father in the home. Ensuring that more children grow up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers is the best way to ensure that every child has a happy and secure childhood.

  • Paternity Matters

    Paternity Matters was formed by the Office of Recovery Services in 2005 to provide education about the paternity establishment process in Utah. Paternity Matters focuses on three main objectives: * Provide training, supplies and support to individuals who work with unwed parents on the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity process in hospitals. * Educate unwed parents about paternity establishment, methods of establishment, and benefits to the parents and children.

Publications Related to Paternity Law

  • Child Custody Publications

    This site offers quick and easy access to expert-quality publications that offer help and guidance for every child custody topic. Every title is STATE-SENSITIVE. Through our easy and confidential ordering system, we can deliver these publications to your computer in just a few minutes where they will be available 24 hours a day for as long as you choose.