Are you about to become a father? Is someone alleging you are about to be a father but you are not sure whether the baby is yours? Are you concerned about the mother’s health decisions while pregnant? If you are the father, what sort of custody arrangements are possible? What about child support? These are common concerns. Establishing paternity and your legal obligations related to your paternity can vary from state to state, so it is important to know where you stand if you are about to become a father in the state of Alabama. There are some cases where paternity can be in question and knowing what to do if you are put in that situation is key.
Below you will learn about methods for establishing paternity when it is “presumed” you are the father and when rebutting paternity is necessary. Emotions run high during these sorts of proceedings, so knowledge is the power that can keep you from making mistakes during the process.
What Does Paternity Mean?
Paternity is the legal status of being a father. This status carries a plethora of rights and responsibilities when a child is born (or paternity is established for that child, which will be discussed below.) Having a child out of wedlock is very common no matter the age or economic status of the people having the child. It is important to know what to expect in case you must prove or rebut paternity.
When Is Paternity presumed?
The state of Alabama has codified a “presumption” of paternity where a father is married to the mother of the child, and the child is born either during the marriage. The married father will have the rights and responsibilities of parentage by default, including child support obligations. This presumption of paternity can be challenged in court by the father be challenged via court action.
Establishing Paternity in Alabama
When establishing paternity in Alabama, the easiest way is to do so voluntarily where both mother and father sign a legal form saying that they acknowledge the child’s legal father. Once this form is filled out and filed, the father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate. If both parents are married when the child is born, paternity is presumed and there is no testing or legal forms needed.
If the couple is not married, there may be questions about paternity such as exclusivity, and no romantic relationship when getting pregnant, among other reasons. When this is the case, both parents can consent to have the father take a DNA test. Once complete and paternity confirmed, an order to establish paternity will need to be filed, with an aptly named Petition to Establish Paternity form and then the couple will receive a court order making it official.
If the mother or supposed father refuses the DNA test, then they will proceed directly to court as the court can compel the unwilling party to go through with the DNA testing.
Alabama law allows any of the following persons or agencies to start a paternity action:
- the child’s mother
- the person who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father
- the Alabama Department of Human Resources
- an authorized adoption agency
- a licensed child-placing agency
- a legal representative for someone who may be the father but is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor
- any person interested in the outcome but does not fit into the other categories
- A child, with the help of an adult or the court
Brackin & Johnson Understands the Importance of Family
At Brackin & Johnson, we get the results you deserve when you need them most. With more than 40 years of experience, we can provide comprehensive care and representation tailored to your needs and unique situation.
No matter what kind of legal help you need, we are ready to help and guide you to understand your legal stance as a parent and get the paternity results you need. Contact us today for the best legal services in Baldwin County.