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When a child is born out of wedlock, either party can file with the Court to establish paternity and/or request orders for visitation, custody and support. There are several situations that may arise with a child born out of wedlock.
Assuming that the mother was unwed at the time the child was born, there are several ways to establish paternity.
- If the father signed the birth certificate, paternity is established.
- If the father did not sign the birth certificate, he can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This is a form that is signed to declare that he is the father. This document should only be signed if he is certain that he is the father. Once signed, paternity is established.
- If the father did not sign the birth certificate and he is not comfortable signing the voluntary acknowledgement of parenthood form, either the mother or the father can petition the Court for a genetic marker test. This test tells, with rather high certainty, whether or not he is the father. A positive result will establish paternity.
If paternity has been established by a birth certificate, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or a positive genetic marker test that was conducted privately outside of the Court, either the mother or the father can then file a Complaint for Visitation, Custody and Support.
If paternity not established
Where paternity has not been established, either parent can file a Complaint to Establish Paternity. The plaintiff must show
- The parties were not married at the time the child was born and
- The mother of the child was not married at the time the child was born or that she was not married within three hundred days before the birth of the child.
Once the complaint is filed, the father can elect to sign the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Absent that, the Court will order a genetic marker test. If the test is positive, then paternity is established and the Court will grant appropriate orders for visitation, custody and support.
In cases where the mother was married at the time the child was born, or that she was married within three hundred days before the birth of the child, the mother’s husband is assumed the father of the child. There is a different procedure to follow in these cases to establish the paternal rights in these matters. Dependant on which party seeks to establish paternity, the procedure varies.
Contact our paternity lawyers in New Hampshire today
As you can see, this is a complicated process with many different procedures, dependant on how the parents elect to proceed. It is important that you understand your options to establish paternity and the future obligations that will be ordered once paternity is established. If you find yourself in any of these situations please contact us for a detailed consultation. Every case is different and it is important that you have legal advice specific to your situation. You can contact Christine G. DeBernardis in her Middleton office (978-777-5393), New Hampshire (603-373-0545) or online.