Fatherhood comes with many rewards and pleasures. It also involves a lifetime of financial and personal responsibilities. Once you are named the father — either through an order or voluntary acknowledgement — you can be held liable for child support until the child turns 21 years old. You may be determined to care for your own child, but what happens if a woman claims you are the father of a baby who is not yours?
The husband is the presumed father, unless a court finds that he is not. A single man is considered the father if:
He signs an acknowledgement of paternity claiming to be the father
DNA evidence proves his fatherhood
A court issues an Order of Filiation
You can declare fatherhood through an acknowledgment of paternity — usually at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. But do not sign an acknowledgment of paternity if you have any doubts about whether you are the father of the child. Because the courts are reluctant to disrupt children’s stability, reversing a paternity determination is difficult. If you later find out you are not the child’s father you may nonetheless remain responsible for paying child support.
A paternity petition initiates the process of obtaining an order of filiation from the court. At the paternity hearing, you have the opportunity to request that a support magistrate order a DNA test to disprove the claim of paternity. Unless you can prove otherwise, you are named the legal father if the DNA test shows a 95 percent probability of paternity.
Family law attorney Bryan Salamone helps you prove the truth against an invalid claim of paternity.