In a family law context, “parentage” refers to the process of determining who the legal parent of a child is. In most cases, this refers to a determination of paternity in cases where the biological parents were not married. Determination of parentage can involve many different processes and steps, including DNA tests and other paternity tests, documentation, or birth certificate searches.
Parentage is an important aspect of family law. It can affect many other legal issues including child custody and visitation, rights of other parties such as grandparents, and child support issues. In fact, parentage must often be formally established before the court can proceed with these other family law issues.
How Is Parentage Established?
If the parents of a child are married at the time of a child’s birth, the court will usually presume that the father is the child’s natural, biological father. As such, they will generally have parentage rights unless paternity is challenged and a different determination is established.
In other cases, parentage may be established by two main ways:
- Signing a voluntary declaration of paternity or parentage, although this may still require some proof and support, such as identification or testing
- Obtaining a court order which pronounces formal parentage and custody
Lastly, there are some cases where parentage can be presumed based on certain facts or actions taken by the father. For instance, if the person agreed to have their name on the child’s birth certificate, courts may presume that the person is the father of the child (this of course will depend on each individual case).
What Are the Rights and Responsibilities Associated with Parentage?
If a person accepts parentage or paternity, they also assume various rights and responsibilities in relation to the child. Some of these parental rights and responsibilities are:
- Providing financial support for the child
- Assuming responsibility for certain juvenile crimes committed by the child
- Obtaining legal documentation that identifies the person as a parent of the child
- Accessing medical records and medical history
- Allowing health or medical insurance coverage to extend to the child
- Passing on property to the child through inheritance laws
Failure to perform one’s parentage responsibilities can lead to legal consequences, including court fines, contempt orders, or even criminal charges.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Parentage Legal Issues?
Parentage is a major issue, and the courts always handle such cases and issues very thoroughly. You may need to hire a family law attorney in your area if you need any assistance with parentage issues. Your lawyer can help research the law in order to help determine what your rights and options are in terms of parentage. If you need to file a court claim in order to establish or challenge parentage, your lawyer can provide you with guidance and representation during the process.