If a married couple has a child in Tennessee, the law automatically considers that the husband is the father. As such, there is no need to establish parentage if the couple divorces and must negotiate child custody arrangements. When a child is born during their parents’ marriage, both parents’ names are featured on the birth certificate without further action being needed.
However, establishing parentage is necessary for unmarried parents before child custody, visitation, and support can be determined. This process proves paternity or legal fatherhood. In Tennessee, establishing parentage can involve voluntary paternity where both parents agree to the man’s claim that he is the biological father. If both parents disagree on the alleged father’s claim, this constitutes involuntary paternity and can require a longer and more complicated legal process.
Why Establishing Parentage Is Important
Establishing parentage allows a child to access the following from either or both of their parents:
- Regular communication and time spent together
- Family medical history
- Social Security benefits
- Health insurance
After proving paternity, a father has the legal obligation to provide for the child until they are of legal age. A father has the right to be involved in the child’s life. He may seek custody or visitation rights to ensure they spend time with the child on a regular basis.
Your Legal Options to Establish Parentage
Unmarried parents have the opportunity to both sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity at the time of the child's birth or any time while the child is a minor. They can submit this document to the state’s court. Upon reception and approval, the father’s name is included on the birth certificate.
If the mother contests the father’s paternity claim, they may need to go to court to present the case. A judge can request a DNA test to verify paternity. If the test results confirm the alleged father’s paternity, parentage is finalized, and the father obtains the appropriate rights and responsibilities. In the event the DNA results disprove the paternity claim, a judge typically dismisses the case.
Hire Conner & Roberts, PLLC to Protect Your and Your Family’s Interests in Chattanooga
Family law can be complex and our team at Conner & Roberts, PLLC can help you navigate the legal proceedings involved in paternity cases. We are committed to providing compassionate and personalized representation. Our lawyers can help you fill out and submit the necessary documents to the court and increase your chances of securing a positive outcome.
Although we strive to resolve child custody matters through mediation and other out-of-court solutions, we are ready to advocate for your and your children’s rights in court. Working with a lawyer can save you time and money as we make sure that you meet deadlines and submit useful evidence to move your case forward.
Our team has extensive experience with simple to complex child custody situations and we can help you with those once you have established parentage. We can also assist you if you want to file for court order modifications in the future.
Do you need to establish parentage to petition for child custody in Chattanooga or its surrounding areas? Contact Conner & Roberts, PLLC today at (423) 299-4489 to schedule a consultation!