When a child’s parents have never been married to one another, and there are issues of establishing parentage, custody, or support, you have a parentage action. A parentage action is also known as a paternity case. While a parentage action may be started when the parents are together to establish paternity, child support, and a visitation schedule, this is not typical. Usually, individuals file a paternity action once the relationship has ended and they want to figure out parentage and how both co-parents will raise the child in two different households.
A parentage action may be used to establish paternity or maternity (such as in cases of lesbians where one partner donated the egg, and the other partner carried the child). If you or your co-parent both signed a Declaration of Paternity at the hospital after your child’s birth, but prior to discharge, then you are both on your child’s birth certificate. A Declaration of Paternity is considered a Judgment of Paternity.
If you did not both sign a Declaration of Paternity at the hospital, you may have done so after your child’s birth and discharge. If you signed after the fact, then you have a Judgment of Paternity where you both acknowledge that you are both the legal parents, but you are not on your child’s birth certificate. You may submit a request for your child’s birth certificate to be reissued.
If you never signed a Declaration of Paternity and the other parent is unwilling to do so, then filing a Paternity action can help with establishing parentage. After you file your Petition to Establish Parental Relationship, you may request that the Court make a finding of parentage and order that the birth certificate be amended to include you or your co-parent as the parent. With a Judgment of Paternity comes the rights and responsibilities of parenting which include visitation and child support.
Therefore, once parentage is determined, the main issues remaining in the paternity action are regarding custodial and visitation orders and establishing or modifying child support.
If you would like to discuss starting a paternity action and the requirements or issues that may arise with your case, please call our qualified family law attorneys today.