Paternity is the legal word used to describe fatherhood. When a married woman gives birth to a child, the mother’s husband is automatically considered the father. However, if a child is born to an unmarried mother, legally speaking, the child will not have a father until paternity is established. Not having a father listed on a child’s birth certificate can have wide-ranging consequences, including the father’s parental rights and the mother’s ability to collect child support payments. At Robinson Law, our Virginia family law attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of paternity. Whether you seek to establish or contest paternity, we can effectively explain the process, advise you of your options, and help you pursue the best course of action.The Importance of Establishing Paternity
Studies consistently show that children do best when raised by two loving parents. However, society has come a long way in the last few decades, and the “traditional” view of what constitutes a family has changed. No longer is having a child out of wedlock uncommon. For some, this is because they do not believe in the institution of marriage. For others, it is because, until recently, state law prevented them from marrying. Whatever the reason, recent estimates suggest that roughly 40% of children are born out of wedlock.
However, having two parents “on paper” is important, both for the child and the parents. For mothers, establishing paternity can help them share the responsibilities of raising a child, including receiving child support payments from the father. For fathers, establishing paternity fosters a connection with a child and provides important parental rights, such as child custody or visitation rights.
Establishing paternity is also important for children because it provides them with a sense of stability and enables a child to have a better understanding of their cultural, religious, and medical history.Ways to Establish Paternity in Virginia
If a child is born to unmarried parents, they will not have a father listed on their birth certificate. There are two ways that Virginia courts allow someone to establish paternity. The first is through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. When both parents agree that a man is the biological father of a child, they can each sign a form in front of a notary indicating their agreement. Often, this is done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. However, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form can be completed at any time.
The other way to establish paternity is by filing a paternity action in court. This is often referred to as the involuntary establishment of paternity. A mother or putative father can initiate a paternity action. Once filed, the court will hear from both the mother and the father. If the parties cannot agree on whether the father is the child’s biological parent, the court will order DNA testing. This involves the mother, father and child having the inside of their cheek swabbed for DNA. The court then sends the samples to a lab for analysis. Currently, DNA test results can state with 99.9% certainty that a man is the biological father of a child. If the DNA comes back indicating the father is the child’s biological father, the court will add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.Contact a Virginia Paternity Lawyer for Help
If you have questions about how to establish paternity or wonder what your options are if someone else is claiming you are a child’s biological father, reach out to Robinson Law for immediate assistance. Our committed team of Virginia divorce and paternity lawyers has in-depth experience dealing with all types of voluntary and involuntary paternity proceedings. We can help you understand your options and how you can best pursue your desired outcome. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to learn more about the services we provide and how we can help, give us a call at (888) 259-9787 today.