Paternity disputes are often challenging and emotionally charged legal issues. Fortunately, the dedicated lawyers at the Thomas Family Law Firm, PLC, can help. Whether you are a financially strapped mother in need of child support or a father wishing to establish custody rights, we can help explain your legal options and guide you through this complex process.
How Is Paternity Determined In Tennessee?
If a child is born to a married woman, Tennessee law automatically presumes that her husband is the child's father ― meaning his name will be on the birth certificate.
However, if the parents are not married at the time of birth, there are two primary ways to establish paternity:
- Voluntary acknowledgement of paternity: When the mother and father agree on paternity, they can sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, which they often complete at the hospital. This acknowledgement is then sent to the office of vital records and the father's name is placed on the birth certificate. One important thing to remember is that a man only has 60 days to dispute or rescind a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity after signing, which can cause many issues down the road if the man discovers he is not the child's father.
- Court order: If an unwed mother and father cannot agree on paternity, either of them can file a petition with the court to establish parentage. These disputes are often resolved using DNA or genetic testing.
As mentioned earlier, there are many important reasons to establish paternity under Tennessee law. For instance, in many cases a woman will have to first establish paternity before the court will order the father make child support payments. Similarly, a father's right to custody or visitation is dependent on him being the child's legal father.
Knowledgeable, Trusted Legal Guidance
If you have questions about paternity disputes, establishing parentage or any other related legal matter, the attorneys at the Thomas Family Law Firm, PLC, are here to help. Unlike many other firms, we only practice family law, so you can count on us to know what we are doing. Contact our Germantown office today by calling 901-537-0010, or reach out to us online. We help families throughout the Memphis area and North Mississippi.