While it is often a biological fact as to who a child's mother is, establishing paternity – or who is the child's father – can be more complicated. However, paternity is important for a number of different reasons. Not only does it affect a child's right to inheritance in case of a father's death, but it is also a central fact during divorce or separation proceedings that may involve child support concerns. However, there may be some situations in which paternity is questionable, and it may become necessary for parents that disagree on paternity to determine a child's official legal paternity.
Establishing Paternity in Alabama
In Alabama, the simplest way to establish paternity is voluntarily, with both the mother and father signing a form that acknowledges paternity by identifying the child's legal father. Once parents have filled out this form and it has been properly filed, the father's name can be added to the child's birth certificate. In cases where the parents are married at the time the child is born, paternity is usually presumed and does not require any outside testing or legal processes. In Alabama when a child is born within 300 days of a divorce, the former spouse is also presumed to be the child's father for purposes of paternity.
In cases where the parents are not married, there may be multiple reasons why parents question the paternity of the child. Perhaps the couple was not exclusive at the time of conception or have not maintained a romantic relationship during the pregnancy. In such cases, both parents can consent to an administrative procedure whereby a DNA test is ordered by the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Once the DNA testing is complete, and if paternity is established by the testing process, an Alabama court will still need to make an official order establishing paternity of the child in question. In order to have them do that, you must file a Petition to Establish Paternity.
Rebutting Paternity in Alabama
In cases where the father outright denies paternity of the child and the father or mother do not wish to cooperate with genetic testing as ordered by the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the mother and the alleged father will have to begin a court process to determine paternity. This process can also be used if a man wants to establish paternity of a child but a child's mother has denied that the man is the biological father. Ultimately, the parties will probably still need to submit to some form of genetic testing.
To rebut a presumption of paternity, the easiest way is to submit to genetic testing. If DNA evidence proves that a man is not the father of a child, usually regardless of why the man was listed as the father in the first place, this offers almost irrefutable proof to the court that the responsibilities that come with paternity do not belong to the man in question. There are other considerations that may cast doubt on paternity, such as a man being impotent or possibly out of the area or even the country for an extended period of time during the likely period of time in which the child was conceived. However, even in these cases it is important to remember that the presumption exists that a married couple are the legal parents of a child born during or shortly after a marriage. If you find yourself in a situation where you believe a child was the result of an affair and genetic testing has proven that, it is important to ask the court for a paternity judgment severing the presumed paternity or you may still be legally considered to be the father.
Paternity is an important but confusing element of childbirth. It can be especially complicated in cases of divorce or separation, or in instances when a child's parents were never married or never in a romantic relationship. If you are experiences issues concerning paternity in divorce or separation, you should seek the advice of an attorney that handles divorce cases. Contact Eversole Law to schedule a consultation today regarding the circumstances of your case and find out more about what options are available to you based on your circumstances.