Establishing paternity is a legal process for making sure that the biological father of the child is the legal father as well.

When unmarried couples have a child, extra steps are need to make sure their child’s paternity is established. If paternity is not established, both parents may miss out on rights related to the minor child, such as custody and child support.

There are a few ways to establish paternity:

  1. If the mother and father get married after the baby is born, their baby is legitimated “retroactively.”
    • There is no action that needs to be filed and assuming dad is on the birth certificate, there is no further action that needs to be taken.
  2. Affidavit of Parentage.
    • Unlike taking the paternity suit to court, signing an affidavit of parentage is a simple and affordable process.  This is usually done at a hospital after the birth of a child.  Once an affidavit is signed, it is legally binding.  It is important to know that if you have any doubts about paternity, do not sign an affidavit.  To alleviate these doubts, arrange genetic testing to find out if you are actually related to the child.
  3. Paternity Action.
    • The North Carolina paternity law provides that the paternity of a child may be established at any time before the child turns eighteen.  A paternity action can be brought to court by either of the parents.  A copy of the child’s birth certificate must be attached to a complaint, and proof of paternity must be shown by clear, sound, and convincing evidence.  Read more about establishing a paternity action here.
    • If the parties go trial, the judge will decide whether the alleged father is the child’s legal father.  The judge or one of the parties may request genetic testing.

If you have any questions or concerns about your paternity, contact our experienced North Carolina family law attorney today!

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