No matter what state you live in, if you fathered a child with a woman out of wedlock (or even in wedlock, if there was infidelity), or if you had a child with a man out of wedlock (or with another man, not your husband), there will need to be a legal determination made, in order for the child’s biological father to be legally named the father of the child. This is sometimes called “legitimizing the child.” And if you are the father, and you wait to long to file a paternity action in court and your child ages out above 18, you will not be able to legitimize that child as your biological child, unless you initiate an adult adoption. Either way, the process is complex and you should hire a qualified paternity lawyer or family law attorney to assist you and ensure that the process done correctly, especially if the child was conceived during a marriage and the child’s biological father is not the husband of the marriage, as the child’s legal father in this case will be the husband, unless an paternity action is brought in court to correct that legal presumption.
The initial action to determine paternity in Texas, which is filed in the District court, and in Arizona, which is filed in the Superior court, is called a “Petition for Paternity.” Because these cases involve a considerable amount of complexity, due other actions that need to be pled for including custody, child support, additional needs, medical history, etc., it is best to retain a qualified paternity attorney or family law attorney at the beginning of the process, and not when you start having issues with your case. If you are a fit parent, an experienced paternity lawyer can help in making sure that the right parent has the right amount of legal rights and custody time with your child.
Establishing Paternity through DNA or Affidavit
In most states, paternity can be established through an affidavit of acknowledgement of paternity or through DNA testing, which is highly accurate. If there is a question as to who the father may be, DNA testing is the best option. However, your will need to wait for a court to order the DNA testing as some courts require a certain test and a certain place to be used. Of course you have a DNA test performed before proceeding to court, but just understand, the court may make you take another one at a location that notices them of the results.
What is an Affidavit of Acknowledgment of Paternity? That is a form where the father and the child’s mother swear before a notary that the father on the form is the child’s biological father. That form is then filed with the state’s Dept. of Vital Statistics Dept. or Dept. of Economic Security, and then, can be used to substantiate rights in your Petition for Paternity case. However, check with your state court, as not all states allow an Affidavit of Acknowledgment of Paternity to be submitted to the court as proof of paternity. What is a DNA test? A DNA test is genetic testing. In order for a father to be a child’s biological father they would need at least a 99 percent finding. There are certain requirements for providing an Affidavit of Acknowledgment of Paternity or DNA testing results, which must be met. Therefore, it is best to hire a qualified family law attorney who can provide you with legal advise and the necessary information that you need in order to make sure that you are successful in this process and that your goals are accomplished.
Challenging a Paternity Ruling or Order
If you want to challenge a paternity order or paternity ruling, even if you did not have DNA test performed initially, in Texas a law was enacted in 2011 that makes it easier for you to do so, such as if you were incarcerated during the legal process or if you meet other guidelines. It is Senate Bill 785. This law can help you avoid having to continue providing financial support for a child who isn’t yours and will allow you to challenge a previous order. You will need to hire a custody attorney who will file a new suit with the original court and you will need to provide proof to the court as to why you are not the father, including that during this challenge you will be required to have DNA test performed on you, whether or not you are the child’s father, and the cost of the DNA test as well as other costs including the costs of court can be imposed on you if the suit to reverse paternity was frivolously brought.
In Arizona, if you believe that you are not the father, you can challenge paternity. You will need to hire a qualified family law attorney who will file a new suit “Complaint’ in the original court that entered the original order. However, the ruled father would need to provide proof to the court such as that he was sterile or infertile at the time the child was conceived, that the the child’s mother was having intercourse with other men at the time of the conception, whether married or not, or that the DNA lab test was tainted or that there were even fraudulent lab results. And, in Arizona, no matter if there is a basis to reverse the initial ruling, the court has the right to not reverse the initial ruling, depending on the length of time that the previous order was entered, in the best interest of the child.
Other ways to rescind paternity is to rescind the acknowledgment of paternity if no court ordered paternity was established but these are also complex legal issues that require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
Retaining a Qualified Paternity Attorney to Help
That is why it is best, if you are the alleged father, or if you are a mother alleging that someone is your child’s father, to initiate the paternity case soon after the baby is born, not only to establish the legal father, but to ensure that that correct father is involved in the child’s life, has rights and has time with the child, unless there is a reason why they should not. If you have a paternity issue, if you are the alleged father or if you are the child’s mother, please contact the qualified and experienced family law lawyers or paternity attorneys at Goldstein & Scopellite, PC for assistance.
Goldstein & Scopellite, PC, which was established in 2002, has offices located in Dallas, Texas and Tucson, Arizona. For more information, see their local listing in D Magazine or their websites at www.lawyersdallas.com or www.lawyers-tucson.com.
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