State Statute of Limitations to Establish Paternity Lawyers

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Statutes of Limitations on Establishing Paternity

A statute of limitations is a law that prevents someone from bringing a legal action against another party after a certain amount of time has passed. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, and can be applied differently depending on the type of legal action. 

In many states, statutes of limitations are applicable to actions to establish paternity. Paternity actions can be important in determining who should pay child support for a child or establishing a relationship between father and child. There are often restrictions on how much child support can be collected where paternity is established long after the birth of the child.

What Are the Statutes of Limitations?

The statutes of limitations listed below apply to mothers, fathers, and children who have not established paternity with the true biological father of the child. If a child already has a presumed father (i.e. the husband of the child’s mother), an acknowledged father (a man who has taken responsibility for the child), or an adjudicated father (a man who has been legally determined to be the father of the child), the case may be more complex. For example, a presumed father may argue that he is not the biological father and contest paternity; the statute of limitations for this is generally much shorter.

The table below shows the applicable statutes of limitations in each state. While the information in this table may be a useful guideline, please be aware that the statutes may change and that this information may be wrong for your particular case. Please consult an attorney in your state for the most up-to-date, appropriate information.

To use the table, find your state and look at the statute of limitation and the applicable notes. For example, in Missouri, the parent (or another party) must establish paternity before the child turns 18. However, the child can attempt to establish paternity until he or she is 21. In Missouri, a person may be required to pay up to five years of back child support if he is determined to be the biological father of a child.

State
Time Limit to Determine Paternity
Notes
Alabama
Until child reaches 19
Can be brought by child up to death of father
Alaska
Until child is no longer a minor or emancipated
 
Arizona
Until child reaches 18
 
Arkansas
No limitation
 
California
Three years after child reaches 18
2 years for rebuttal
Colorado
Until child reaches 18
Up to age 21 for the child
Connecticut
Until child reaches 18
Limit of three years of liability for past support
Delaware
Until child reaches 18
No limit for child if no paternity has been established
D.C.
Until child reaches 21 
 
Florida
Four years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Florida
Georgia
No clear limitation under statute  
 
Hawaii
Three years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Hawaii
Idaho
Until child reaches 18
 
Illinois
Two years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Illinois
Indiana
Two years after birth of child, with exceptions
Child may file petition at any time before age 20
Iowa
One year after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Iowa
Kansas
Three years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Kansas
Kentucky
Until child reaches 18
For cases initiated 4+ years after birth, support limited
Louisiana
No limit for father unless other father presumed
Child may file up to 1 year after death of father
Maine
Until child reaches 18
Support limited to six years prior to paternity action
Maryland
Until child reaches 18
Until age 21 where child has physical/mental infirmity
Massachusetts
No clear limitation under statute
 
Michigan
Until child reaches 18
 
Minnesota
One year after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Minnesota
Mississippi
Until child reaches 21, unless emancipated
Support limited to one year prior to paternity action
Missouri
Until child reaches 18 (child may file until 21)
Support limited to five years prior to paternity action
Montana
Child may bring until two years after majority
Support limited to two years prior to paternity action
Nebraska
Until child reaches 18
 
Nevada
Three years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Nevada
New Hampshire
Until child reaches 18
 
New Jersey
Five years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in New Jersey
New Mexico
Three years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in New Mexico
New York
Until child reaches 21
 
North Carolina
Until child reaches 18
 
North Dakota
No clear limitation under statute
May be brought by child, even if adult, at any time
Ohio
Until child reaches 23
 
Oklahoma
Until child reaches 18
May be brought by child, even if adult, at any time
Oregon
No clear limitation under statute
 
Pennsylvania
Until child reaches 18
 
Rhode Island
Four years after child reaches age of majority
In general, age of majority is 18 in Rhode Island
South Carolina
No clear limitation under statute
 
South Dakota
Until child reaches 18
 
Tennessee
Three years after child reaches age of majority
 
Texas
No limitation
 
Utah
No limitation
May be brought by child, even if adult, at any time
Vermont
Three years after child reaches age of majority
 
Virginia
No clear limitation under statute
 
Washington
No limitation
Support limited to 5 years prior to paternity action
West Virginia
Until child reaches 18
May be brought by child until age 21
Wisconsin
Until child reaches 19
 
Wyoming
No clear limitation under statute
May be brought by child, even if adult, at any time

Do I Need A Lawyer?

If you are dealing with a paternity issue, and are concerned that a statute of limitations might apply to your claim, you should contact a lawyer.  A lawyer with experience in family law can help explain the law in your state, and how it applies to your case.

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Last Modified: 10-06-2015 01:56 PM PDT

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