Paternity law is a complicated, confusing, and often infuriating branch of law. Most people simply do not understand it.
This makes sense, considering there are only estimated 280,000 paternity tests done each year. While that is a large number, it is tiny in comparison to the number of children born annually, which is around four million.
Because many people do not understand the intricacies of paternity law, they are bound to make mistakes when faced with a paternity lawsuit, test, or child support payments. This makes having skilled and dedicated legal support all the more important.
Find the three biggest errors people make when engaged in paternity law below. If you have experienced any of these – or if you are engaged in a family law battle – contact us today for a complimentary consultation to learn your rights and options.
Not Understanding the Different Definitions of Father
Far from being as simple as most think, the legal definitions of being a father are complex. There are four main definitions: acknowledged, presumed, equitable, and unwed. Each of these is subject to different responsibilities and each has different rights in the world of child custody.
An acknowledged father is the biological father of a child who legally acknowledges he is the father.
A presumed father is, as the name suggests, presumed to be the father of a child. To fall into the presumed father category, the man in question must have: been married to the mother when the child was conceived and/or born, attempted to marry the mother when the child was conceived and/or born, married to the mother after the child was born but agreed to have his name placed on the birth certificate and/or pay child support payments, or have welcomed the child into his home after birth and openly acknowledged the child as his.
A presumed father is a category most men engaged in paternity law fall in to. It is also the most hotly debated and requires a level of legal expertise to navigate successfully.
An equitable father is one who is not the biological or adopted father, but who: is acknowledged as the father by himself and the child, wants to have the rights offered to a father, or is willing to take on child support payments.
An unwed father is one who impregnates the mother but does not marry her or claim any of the responsibilities or rights of a father.
Refusing a Paternity Test
Many men will refuse to take a court ordered a paternity test. This is not recommended. Not only is refusing a court-ordered test illegal, but it may hurt the man in any future family legal proceedings.
If a man refuses to take a paternity test, he will likely be held in contempt of court. The consequences of this vary but can range from a fine to criminal charges being filed. Additionally, many courts will order the man to pay child support regardless of his refusal.
Do not refuse to take a court ordered a paternity test. If you have refused, contact us now to learn what options are still available to you.
Not Questioning Child Support Payments
Another common mistake men make when engaged in paternity law is simply paying child support payments without seeking any order modification.
Order modification is not always granted but can be under certain circumstances. Say, for example, that a man has lost his job or has had to declare bankruptcy. He can request child support payment modification in these cases.
It is not guaranteed the court will approve order modifications, but it is a good option for those who are struggling financially and unable to pay child support.
Call us today if you are engaged in a paternity lawsuit. Our team of family law attorneys bring years of experience to the table and will fight for your full rights and a favorable outcome. If you need a child support attorney, contact us today.