Establishing paternity is important for both parents and children. It provides benefits like custody rights, child support, and a sense of family and connection.
Paternity determinations can be relatively straightforward when parents agree on the father’s identity and have a family attorney assisting them. However, contested cases present many challenges, and a parent seeking a determination is well-advised to seek counsel from an experienced Hamilton County paternity lawyer.
Certain legal presumptions can complicate cases under state law. Under Tennessee Code Annotated §36-2-304, the state assumes that a man is a child’s father if any of the following circumstances exist:
While legal presumptions can make it easier to establish paternity, they may not always accurately identify the child’s natural father. For example, a man could acknowledge paternity even though he knows he is not the father. A seasoned local lawyer understands how to challenge these assumptions when necessary.
The easiest way for unmarried parents to establish paternity is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Hospital staff typically presents this document to the child’s parents shortly after the child is born. If they sign it at the hospital, the father’s name is immediately placed on the child’s birth certificate.
If either parent changes their mind after signing the acknowledgment, they can rescind it in writing within 60 days. If parents do not establish paternity via an acknowledgment before their child turns 19 years old, they must establish paternity through genetic testing or court order. A parent with questions about the voluntary paternity acknowledgment process could consult a practiced attorney in Hamilton County.
When parents disagree on the father’s identity, paternity establishment becomes more complicated. Either parent, a man alleged to be the father, or the child can file a paternity action. As part of the proceeding, a judge can order the parties to submit to DNA testing.
A court may also consider other evidence to confirm or deny parentage. For example, a man presenting himself as the child’s father could testify that he was romantically involved with the child’s mother around the time of conception. He could also present witnesses and documentary evidence, such as voicemails, photographs, or videotapes to verify the alleged relationship.
Contested paternity actions are often highly emotional. A man who loves a child and believes he is the father could learn he is not, causing great pain for him and his family. It is essential in these Hamilton County paternity cases to have the sound legal advice of a caring lawyer.
Whether you are seeking to establish paternity to solidify a parent-child relationship or a man defending against paternity allegations, a skilled Hamilton County paternity lawyer could help you. Reach out to our dedicated legal team today for more information about voluntary acknowledgments and contested actions.