When two parties were never married but have a child together and are no longer together, a paternity action is needed to establish court orders regarding the child. Many parents assume signing the voluntary declaration of paternity (VPOP) at the hospital when the child is born is sufficient to establish parental rights. However, this is not true. Though the VPOP is a piece of evidence that the Court can use to establish paternity, a paternity action must be filed and the court must make a finding of paternity to establish rights of a Father.
Once a paternity action is initiated and either party in the action would like to contest paternity a parent can request court mandated DNA testing prior to the Court making any custody and visitation orders as well as child support orders. Paternity must be established before custody and visitation and child support orders are made. The easiest way for paternity to be established is via a stipulated agreement between the parties. However, even if parties reach a full agreement on a parenting plan and a child support amount, there are certain documents required to be filed with the Court. An experience attorney can assist you in drafting these documents to ensure efficiency and accuracy of the paternity process.
There are a few easy steps to every paternity action:
1. File Petition
File the initial petition to establish paternity and pay initial filing fee of $435.00.
3. Motion Served
This motion along with the underlying petition is then served on the other parent in the matter.
5. Court Date
The Court hears the matter and makes orders on custody and visitation and child support if requested.
2. Custody and Visitation
Once the petition is filed you can choice to also file a motion for custody and visitation orders simultaneously.
If the motion includes a parenting plan, the parties will attend mandatory mediation also known as Family Court Services.
6. Carry Out Judgment
In order to finalize the paternity action a judgment must be drafted and the executed judgment is then submitted to the Court.