In a paternity action, there are three main issues that we’re dealing with. The first issue involves the actual adjudication of paternity demonstrating that a particular father is indeed the father of a child. That adjudication could take place in one of three ways, either by agreement of the parties or the father signing off on a document called, “a recognition of parentage,” or through some sort of a genetic test.
The other two issues involved in a paternity case are similar to a divorce involving children in the sense that there are custody and parenting time issues along with child support issues that need to be addressed. The law on those two pieces are identical in both a divorce along with a paternity case, and so if you’re interested in learning more about child support or custody or parenting time provisions, I would encourage you to check out those video segments.
One other piece that’s very important to outline in terms of paternity case is the fact that under the law, a father has no right to parenting time or custody or to make decisions regarding a child unless and until they have a court order granting them that opportunity to do so.
The statutes frankly are a bit outdated. They do encourage children to be born within a marital relationship, but the fact remains that if you are the father of a child and you have not obtained some sort of a court order to have parenting time with that child, legally the mother can withhold parenting time.
However, that’s not to say that we would necessarily encourage an unwed mother to go ahead and withhold that parenting time, in particular, if the father has had an ongoing relationship with the child.
The reason for that is that the best interest of the child statute does take into account your disposition to encourage an ongoing relationship with the father of the child. It may make sense in some circumstances to not allow parenting time. For example, if the father has not been involved in the child’s life or for other circumstances where the child is endangered.