When a child is born in Tennessee, the father is may be presumed, particularly if the parents are married. If the parents are married, the husband is the father of any children born during the marriage.
However, if the mother and father are not married at the time of a child’s birth, the mother is given full custody of the child. The father is not presumed, even if the couple has been together for many years. Legal steps must be taken to establish paternity. It is best to establish paternity right away, preferably at the time of birth, so that the father, mother, and child can reap the benefits of paternity.
All children have the right to know their mother and father and have a relationship with them both. Here’s how a man can go about establishing paternity.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Parents complete a legal form called the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAoP). They must sign it in front of a notary public. This can only be done until the child reaches 19 years old. This will only place the father on the birth certificate and a court order will still be needed to establish parental rights and a custody/visitation order.
- Court order. Either parent may file an action to establish parentage and seek a custody/visitation order and set child support.
- DNA testing. Either parent may request genetic testing to determine paternity as part of the parentage action to set a custody/visitation order and child support.
It is best to establish paternity sooner rather than later. This allows maximum participation by the parents and also minimizes the risk of retroactive child support and child support arrearages.
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Establishing paternity is necessary in order to set visitation and child support and other benefits. If you were not married when your child was born, you need to establish parental rights in court.
A Tennessee paternity lawyer from The Law Office of David L. Scott can help you with paternity issues. We help both mothers and fathers with matters involving paternity, establishment of parentage, and enforcement of parental rights. Fill out the online form or call (615) 896-7656 to schedule a consultation.