Establishing paternity holds many benefits for the entire family. However, the process can be incredibly complex. Our Appleton paternity attorneys can lighten the burden placed on you and provide the personalized legal services customized to fit the needs of you and your family.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
All parents in Appleton have certain rights and responsibilities. In most cases, the law presumes that each parent has the right and obligation to spend time with their child. Likewise, all parents have a responsibility to financially support their child until they are no longer a minor.
Establishing paternity is necessary to determine the rights and responsibilities of each party. Once paternity has been established, the mother or father can then fight for their rights and hold the other party responsible for fulfilling their obligations.
Why Establish Paternity?
Establishing paternity is one of the most important issues heard in the family courts in Appleton. Not only does it ensure that the biological father is granted their legal rights, but it also provides many protections for children. Establishing paternity will allow a biological father to:
- Have their name appear on the child’s birth certificate
- Exercise their legal rights before a child is placed for adoption
- Formally request the court to grant them placement, custody, and child support
Minor children will also enjoy certain benefits and protections once paternity is established. The most common of these are as follows:
- Financial support from each parent until they are no longer a minor
- Access to the biological father’s veteran benefits, social security, inheritance, and pension
- Enrollment in the health insurance plan provided by an employer or a private health insurance company
- Rights to enroll in a tribe if the father is Native American
Aside from the legal protection establishing paternity can provide, it can also give both parents a better understanding of the child. For example, establishing paternity can provide more information about the family medical history, and what to expect in terms of the child’s growth and development.
When Must You Establish Paternity in Appleton?
Paternity can be established in Appleton by either the alleged father, the mother, the child, a guardian ad litem, or a grandparent. There is a strict deadline when filing, though. Paternity must be established prior to the child’s 19th birthday.
How to Voluntarily Acknowledge Paternity
Parents can voluntarily acknowledge paternity by filling out a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (VPA). This is a legal form parents can fill out while they are still in the hospital, immediately following the child’s birth. Families can still request a copy of this legal document once they have left the hospital so the acknowledgement can become part of the important records.
Parents who sign this form are voluntarily acknowledging that they are the legal and biological father and mother of the minor child. Anyone who is unsure of whether or not they are the biological father of the child should always speak to a Appleton paternity attorney who can advise them of their legal rights. Once this form is signed, the biological mother can pursue child support against the father, regardless of whether they have been married and divorced or not.
Signing a VPA is the easiest way to establish paternity, but it is not applicable in all situations. For example, if the child is a result of incest or rape, the VPA cannot be used. Additionally, if either the mother or the father is under the age of 18 years old, using the VPA is not applicable. The VPA is also not an option when a woman has a child or conceives a child while she is married to someone else.
When Going to Court is Necessary
It is ideal to voluntarily acknowledge paternity to avoid lengthy and costly court battles. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. When there is a dispute involving the identity of the biological father, the matter must go to court. Both the mother and the alleged father will have a chance to present their arguments and evidence to strengthen their case. A family law judge will likely order a genetic test to determine the paternity of the child.
Once the test results are returned to the court, the family law judge will confirm whether the party in question is the biological father. In Wisconsin, a precedent has been set that if the DNA shows a 99 percent or higher statistical probability that the man in question is the child’s father, it is assumed to be accurate. Alleged fathers who refuse to submit to a DNA test ordered by the court could be held in contempt of court.
Acknowledgement of a Marital Child
An Acknowledgement of a Marital Child is appropriate to use when a child is born to unwed parents. This is a legal document and it can be provided by a child support agency or from the vital records of the office of the state. Before mailing this form back into the office of Vital Records, the parents must have it notarized.