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Paternity Action: What is it & How to File it

Culbertson and Associates > Paternity Law > Paternity Action: What is it & How to File it

If you are considering a Paternity Action or are currently involved in one, it is crucial to understand the legal steps involved and to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

Culbertson and Associates is a law firm that specializes in family law and can provide guidance and representation for individuals involved in a Paternity Action. The attorneys at Culbertson and Associates have the experience and knowledge to help navigate the legal process and advocate for their clients’ rights and best interests. Whether you are seeking to establish paternity or are being named as an alleged father, the attorneys at Culbertson and Associates can provide you with the legal support and representation you need throughout the Paternity Action process.

What is a Paternity Action?

A Paternity Action is a legal process used to establish the paternity of a child. It is a lawsuit filed in court that can be initiated by the mother, the alleged father, or the child’s guardian. The purpose of the Paternity Action is to establish the legal rights and responsibilities of the father, including financial support, custody, and visitation.

Who Can File a Paternity Action?

In North Carolina, any of the following parties can initiate a Paternity Action:

  • The mother of the child
  • The alleged father of the child
  • The child’s guardian
  • The Department of Social Services

Reasons for Filing a Paternity Action

There are several reasons why a Paternity Action may be filed, including:

  • To establish legal paternity and secure the rights and responsibilities of the father
  • To establish a child support order
  • To establish custody and visitation rights
  • To establish inheritance rights
  • To establish health insurance coverage for the child
  • To establish a name for the child

The Paternity Action Process

The Paternity Action process involves several steps, including:

  1. Filing the Complaint: The first step in the Paternity Action process is to file a Complaint with the court. The Complaint must be served on the alleged father, who then has the opportunity to respond.
  2. Service of Process: The alleged father must be served with the Complaint and a summons, which informs him of the lawsuit and his rights in the case.
  3. Answer and Discovery: After being served with the Complaint, the alleged father has the opportunity to file an Answer, in which he can admit or deny paternity. The parties then have the opportunity to conduct discovery, which includes gathering evidence and information related to the case.
  4. Genetic Testing: If there is a dispute over paternity, the court may order genetic testing to determine the father. Genetic testing involves collecting DNA samples from the child, the mother, and the alleged father, which are then analyzed to determine the likelihood of paternity.
  5. Trial: If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. The trial will be held before a judge, and the parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony.
  6. Judgment: After the trial, the judge will make a determination of paternity and issue a Judgment. The judgment will include a child support order, custody and visitation order, and any other orders as deemed necessary.

Rights and Responsibilities of the Parties

Once paternity is established through a Paternity Action, the father will have legal rights and responsibilities to the child, including:

  • The right to seek custody or visitation of the child
  • The right to be notified of and participate in important decisions about the child’s welfare
  • The responsibility to provide financial support for the child
  • The right to inherit from the child

It’s important to note that establishing paternity does not automatically grant the father custodial rights or visitation. The court will still consider the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and visitation.

Potential Outcomes of a Paternity Action

The potential outcomes of a Paternity Action include:

  • Paternity is established: If paternity is established through a Paternity Action, the father will have legal rights and responsibilities to the child, as outlined above.
  • Paternity is not established: If paternity is not established, the alleged father will not have any legal rights or responsibilities to the child.
  • Default Judgment: If the alleged father does not respond to the Complaint or does not appear for the trial, the court may enter a default judgment, which establishes paternity by default.
  • Dismissal of the Case: The court may dismiss the Paternity Action if there is not enough evidence to establish paternity or if the parties are unable to reach a settlement.

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