The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ behind parentage suits
Growing up, I always had my mother and father to rely on. They were there for me when I came home from school, they took care of me when I was sick and, more importantly, they provided me a loving home to live in. Even when they eventually divorced, both wanted to remain in my life.
Every child should have the emotional – and legal – benefit of knowing who both their parents are. Oftentimes, it’s not that simple. For example, if the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant, or if the father does not wish to be involved in the child-rearing process, then technically that child does not have a legal father.
Even more complex situations like these create a ton of confusion, and the child is often the one left out in the cold. That’s where establishing parentage through a parentage suit is important.
The purpose of a parentage suit is to legally establish the existence of a parent-child relationship. It promotes equal treatment of the children of married and unmarried parents and establishes rights and responsibilities for each parent.
A parentage suit is also necessary before things like custody or child support can be ordered. For the child, it creates consistency, fairness and a sense of normalcy as they move forward in life.
In the majority of these suits, questioning maternity (who is the mother) is extremely rare. I mean, if a woman has carried a child through pregnancy and gave birth to the child, she is the mother unless there was a gestational agreement. So we will not talk about that end of things in this blog.
What we will discuss is the most common type of parentage suit – a paternity suit.
Understanding how the father-child relationship is established helps determine how to bring most parentage suits before the court. Simply put, a man becomes a father if his paternity is:
- Presumed – A presumed father is a man who is recognized as the father of a child. This is typically the case if he is married to the mother and the child is born during the marriage, he married the mother before the birth of the child, or he lives in the same household as the child.
- Acknowledged through paternity – A man who has executed an acknowledgement of paternity. In other words, he admits he is the father. An acknowledgement of paternity allows the man and the mother to skip going through a paternity suit.
- Adjudicated paternity – This is done through a suit to adjudicate parentage, which proves that a man who is not a presumed, acknowledged, or previously adjudicated is the father of a child or to prove he is not the child’s father. In these suits, the only question is whether the man is the child’s biological father, which is established through genetic testing.
- Consent to assisted reproduction – A man can be the father of a child who is born by means of assisted reproduction (he provides sperm for or consents to the assisted reproduction). His consent must be in a signed record.
- Adoption – If a man legally adopts a child then he is considered an adjudicated father.
- By gestational agreement – If a man is adjudicated to be the father of a child born to a gestational mother under a validated gestational agreement.
Did you find this topic helpful? If you did not, or you simply have additional questions, please give our knowledgeable staff at Nelson Law Group, PC a call. Our staff is always available.