Some fathers are even stay at home dads who act as the primary parents while the mothers work full time.
Many men want to have a relationship with their children, but sometimes there are barriers preventing this from happening. Maybe they are not married. The mother of their child may not want them to have custody of the child. The mother may claim that they are not the father.
Paternity is an important legal right. It’s also a highly emotional experience, as there’s nothing like being a father. Married men with children do not have to establish paternity under Wisconsin law. If you are an unmarried man seeking custody of your child, you will need to establish paternity. This can be difficult without the right legal help.
If you need help with your case, the team at Karp & Iancu, S.C. is ready to assist you. Get started by contacting our Wauwatosa paternity attorneys today.
Types of Paternity Cases
Paternity cases often come about in several situations:
- A man wants to establish paternity so he can have custody of the child.
- The mother wants to establish paternity so she can receive child support from the man.
- The state wants to establish paternity to put an income withholding order in place and seek reimbursement from the mother for any assistance.
When a couple is married at the time the woman gives birth, the man is automatically determined to be the father. This is true even if it is possible that the woman had an affair while married and some other man is the father. But under Wisconsin law, the man is purported to be the father unless he and his wife say otherwise.
When the woman is not married at the time, though, paternity needs to be established. There are four ways to do so in Wisconsin:
- Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement. The easiest way to establish paternity is to complete and file a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form. If both the mother and the alleged father are 18 years of age or older and they know for sure that the man is the father, they can complete this form any time after the baby is born.
- Acknowledgment of Marital Child. If the mother and the father decide to get married after the child is born, they can sign an Acknowledgment of Marital Child form. This will establish paternity. The form needs to be signed by both parents, notarized, and mailed to the Office of Vital Records.
- Genetic testing. If there is a possibility that a man may be a child’s father, the man can undergo genetic testing to know for sure. Genetic testing is typically done via a cheek swab of the man, mother, and child. The DNA is then compared and if the statistical probability of paternity is 99% or higher, the man is determined to be the father.
- Court ruling. If there is disagreement about paternity, the mother or the man can go to court and schedule a hearing. Both parties should attend the hearing, in which a judge will make a decision about paternity.
Paternity can be established any time after the child is born, but it’s best to do so as soon as the child is born. A court action to establish paternity must occur before the child's 19th birthday. After that time, no one can be forced to participate in genetic testing to establish paternity.
If a man is asked to take a paternity test, he must comply. While he can technically say no, this refusal is considered contempt of court and comes with penalties such as jail time and fines.
Benefits of a Wauwatosa Paternity Attorney
A paternity lawyer can help with the following:
- Draft and review agreements. An attorney will help to ensure that you understand the terms of child custody and support and help avoid any future problems. They can also help you negotiate favorable contract terms.
- Resolve paternity matters. It may be necessary to establish paternity or disprove paternity allegations to settle child custody and child support disputes. A lawyer can help you through the process.
- Protect parental rights. Protecting relationships between parents and children is a high priority in the courtroom. Child custody and support issues are often highly emotional. Your lawyer will advocate for terms that are beneficial to you and your children.
- Advocate for you in court. Sometimes the parties are unable to resolve paternity issues. In these situations, the courts must decide. An attorney will present your case to the court so that the judge can make favorable decisions.
Benefits of Paternity
Paternity establishment affirms the connection between a father and his child. Paternity comes with rights and obligations. A man who is determined to be a child’s father will have the right to custody and placement of the child. The father is obligated to pay child support and provide medical care for the child.
Paternity comes with benefits for the father and child, such as the following:
- The father can have a relationship with the child.
- The father’s name is on the birth certificate.
- The child has access to their father’s medical/genetic history.
- The child has access to health insurance.
- The child has inheritance rights.
- The child has access to their father’s Social Security and military benefits.