How Does the Law Recognize the Father of a Child?
The laws of paternity are complex and vary from state to state. Often times the legally recognized father is not the biological father. Here is how most states categorize a father:
- Acknowledged Father - An acknowledged father is an unmarried man who has admitted to being the child's father. An acknowledged father must pay child support.
- Presumed Father - A presumed father is a married man who:
- was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born; or
- legally agreed to be the father of his wife's child; or
- has acted and behaved as if the child was his own.
- A presumed father also must pay child support.
- Unwed Father - An unwed father is an unmarried man who has a child with a woman. The unwed father must pay child support if a court finds that he is the biological or acknowledged father. An unwed father who pays child support may also have visitation rights with the child.
- Stepfather - A stepfather is a man who marries a woman who had a child with another man. Stepfathers have no duty to support the child. However, a stepfather can adopt the stepchild with the stepchild's biological or acknowledged father's consent. If a stepfather legally adopts his stepchild, then he must pay to support the child.
- Enforcing Child Support - To get child support you first must prove that the man is the legal father of the child. To do this, you must go to court and ask the judge to subject the man to a paternity test. This could mean having the alleged father undergo Paternity DNA Testing. Asking the judge to do this is called a Paternity Action. If the man is a presumed or acknowledged father, then he must pay child support. If the man is neither, then the judge can order the man to have a blood or DNA test. These tests will determine whether or not the man is biologically related to your child. If the test shows that the man is biologically related to your child, then he will have to pay child support.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Paternity Action?
Family law can be very complex and frustrating. Additionally, each state has different laws that govern paternity. A lawyer will know all about the laws of your state.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 06-22-2011 11:40 AM PDT
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