Paternity Establishes A Child's Right To A Relationship And Support

Biologically speaking, every child has a father. But, not all children have a legal father, which can impact the rights and obligations for all parties involved. Upon the establishment of paternity, a child has the legal right to a relationship with the father, financial support and access to a father's medical history, and he or she may be eligible to receive certain medical, life insurance and other benefits.

The Landers Firm, PLC, in Memphis helps mothers and fathers establish or contest the legal paternity of a child. It is crucial to have an attorney assist you with the process. Although the explanation below makes the process seem simple, these cases can be highly complex due to nuances in the law and your individual situation.

Three Ways To Establish Paternity In Tennessee

There are three general ways to establish paternity in Tennessee: presumptively, voluntarily and involuntarily.

  • Presumptively: If a mother is married at the time of a child's birth or signed final divorce papers within 300 days of the birth, the husband is presumed to be the father. This is a rebuttable presumption, though, which means that any party can challenge the presumption with evidence that another man is the father of the child.
  • Voluntarily: If parents are not married, a father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAoP) at birth or after. Although a DNA test is not required by law for a VAoP to be valid, we still recommend it when parents wish to enforce the rights or obligations of shared parenting and support.
  • Involuntarily: These are situations in which one or more parties has contested the paternity of a child. Either the father, mother or child can submit a petition to the court to determine and establish paternity, in which case a DNA test is required.

Establish Or Contest Paternity Sooner Rather Than Later

Paternity is a time-sensitive matter. Parents may initially agree to no contact or support, but this is not a legally binding agreement. Your rights could be impacted years later by a parent who decides he or she wants to see the child or needs the financial support. And yes, one parent can collect unpaid child support years later, resulting in a payment of actual support and interest.

If you have questions about establishing paternity, fathers' rights or any other family law issue, we urge you to contact our lawyers immediately. You can reach them by calling our office in Memphis at 901-522-1010 or sending us your contact information.