Paternity is rarely something married couples need to think about. Louisiana makes the assumption that when a married couple has a child, the child is the biological product of that marriage. However, things become more complicated when children are born to unmarried couples.
Maternity is easily established by virtue of biology, but paternity is less certain. When a couple is unmarried, a father needs to establish paternity in order to ensure he is the legal father as well as the biological father.
In order to establish paternity, the father can do one of two things. He and the mother can sign an affidavit of acknowledgment, which is a sworn statement of paternity. This is a voluntary process, and either parent can choose not to sign it. If a father is unsure of his paternity, he has the right to pursue genetic testing to ensure there is a genetic link between himself and the child. Most unmarried couples choose to sign the affidavit at the hospital or birthing center, and the hospital will have the necessary forms and staff available to assist the parents.
The second way to establish paternity is by going to court. A paternity action can be brought to a judge by the child, the mother, the father, or a government lawyer for Child Support Enforcement (CSE). CSE usually becomes involved at the request of the mother for financial assistance.
Establishing paternity in advance is usually best in two different scenarios. If a father wants to be involved in the life of his child even after he and the mother separate, legal paternity is necessary to apply for custody. A mother usually should establish paternity in case she needs child support from the father.
Paternity should be established early to avoid an eventual legal battle later. This can save all parties involved time and money when they don’t have to go to court later.
If you are a mother or father who wishes to establish paternity, talk to one of our New Orleans family law attorneys as soon as possible. We can walk you through the process and help you pursue legal action if necessary.
Contact us at (504) 502-7316 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.