How is Paternity Legally Established?

It’s rarely difficult to determine who the mother of a child is – pregnancy tends to be a good indication of the genetic ties. However, fathers can be much harder to pin down in certain cases, especially when the man involved has no desire to take on the responsibilities tied to raising a child. No matter the current relationship between the mother and father, legally designating a second party responsible for the financial well-being of the family is of utmost importance.

The Uniform Parentage Act

The Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) was originally approved in 2000 by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws, and changed in 2002 so there was a legal way to establish who the child’s parents are even if the two aren’t married. A man is presumed to be the father under the UPA if:

  • He was married to the mother within 300 days of the child being born.
  • He attempted to marry the mother within 300 days of the birth, but the marriage was unsuccessful for any number of reasons.
  • He marries the mother after the birth, is named on the birth certificate, pays child support, or signs a paternity statement.
  • He and the mother are not married, but the child, while still a minor, lives under his roof and he openly claims the child as his own.

Declaring Paternity:

Involuntary: The case will likely end up in court in this instance, and the first step is to contact the local Department of Social Services office. They will serve the presumptive father with the necessary legal papers naming him as the father, though he may still request a DNA test to dispute any paternity claim.

Voluntary: If the man is present during the birth, he will have the option to sign an acknowledgement of paternity. If he was not present, the United States Department of Health still allows him to sign the necessary forms at a later date. His name cannot be included on the birth certificate until he signs these forms, so if he isn’t present at the birth it may need to be added at a later time.

If the presumptive father of your child refuses to sign the necessary forms, you may need to seek legal assistance to ensure that the paperwork is completed. At Givens Givens Sparks, our Tampa family law attorneys understand how difficult your situation may be, and can provide you with the legal guidance you need to secure the outcome you deserve. Call us at (813) 336-3348 to speak with one of our family law lawyers today, or fill out our online form to request a case consultation.

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