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Scott B. Meyer Attorney at Law
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The step-by-step process required to establish paternity

Fathers who had children without being married to the woman hundreds of years ago were at a severe disadvantage. Without being married, it was usually impossible for them to prove that the child was theirs without the mother's agreement. These days the situation is different. Fathers can initiate the process of legally establishing paternity, and with DNA evidence, they can show that they are the biological fathers of their children.

If you're a father seeking to establish paternity, here are a few details you might want to understand:

What is paternity law?

Paternity laws provide a means to establish who a child's biological father is. This is done by DNA testing at the behest of either the father or the mother. Often, mothers are eager to establish paternity so that the mother can receive child support payments from the father. Fathers might also be inclined to request the test if they have been denied access to visit with their children on the basis of the mother's claim that they are not the father.

How do you establish paternity?

There are two primary ways to establish paternity. The first, voluntary acknowledgement is the easiest and preferred. With this method, both parents come to agreement about who the father is. They complete the necessary paperwork to legally establish the father's status, and the process is complete. This is best carried out when the father is present at the hospital during the birth of the child, but the parents can complete the paperwork at any time.

The second way to establish paternity -- when either parent contests who the father is -- involves legal proceedings. In these cases, the state will often order genetic testing of the father and the infant.

What can a family law attorney do in a paternity case?

Most people have never needed to go through the formal process of establishing paternity. The process of doing this can be emotional, especially when the alleged parents disagree about the truth. Following appropriate legal procedure, in addition to staying objective about the legal proceedings, is essential. A lawyer can help someone establish paternity or defend against paternity by providing an understanding of the law and an objective view of the situation.

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