Mothers cannot obtain child support until the paternity of the father is determined. On the flip side, fathers will not gain child custody until a paternity test proves the male in question is the father. Paternity is a complicated area of the law where emotions can run high.
Paternity refers to the legal determination of who is the biological father of a child. While the identity of a child’s biological mother is usually known, the father’s identity may not always be as certain. Paternity issues often arise in cases involving child support, but they can also be important in relation to adoption, inheritance, custody and visitation, health care and other issues.
Our lawyers can help either mothers or alleged fathers in paternity suits:
- Mothers: Establishing paternity is necessary for collecting back child support or establishing a future child support arrangement. Our lawyers can arrange for paternity tests and make sure that they are legally binding.
- Alleged fathers: Often, women will demand child support from men who are not the actual biological fathers. We can help men combat paternity fraud and stay away from unwarranted payments.
- We represent clients in cutting edge legal cases involving in vitro fertilization and custody of frozen embryos or access to frozen sperm when legal questions arise after a divorce or death.
- We help people in same-sex relationships to secure their parental rights prior to childbirth, to establish parental rights after birth or to secure parental rights after divorce or dissolution of a relationship.
Of course, not all cases fit into the above categories. For example, some fathers may want to establish paternity so that their children can get all the legal rights afforded to biological children, such as inheritance.
Representing both men and women in these cases, we keep all parties on equal footing as we explain paternity to our clients from the standpoint of both mothers and potential fathers. Unmarried parents have the same opportunity to have their custody disputes heard by the court as do married parents. When you are living apart, there may be issues as to who has the right to determine medical care, education and where the child lives. Spending time with your child may be difficult if the other parent does not agree.
There are several others ways to establish a parental relationship, including: