How Is Paternity Established in Court?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

Establishing a child’s parentage when he or she is born into a marriage is usually quite simple. North Carolina automatically assumes a husband and wife are the parents of an infant born to the wife. Additionally, it is an easy process to establish paternity when the mother and father are in an amicable relationship. They can sign an affidavit of parentage, voluntarily telling the state that they are the infant’s biological parents. However, issues arise when paternity is contested – when the child’s father does not believe he is the biological parent or refuses to take responsibility for the child. When parentage cannot be established through marriage or affidavit, then the court or Child Support Services must get involved.

When individuals need to establish or confirm paternity for child custody and support, they should speak with an Angier paternity lawyer from Breeden Law Office. We have years of experience helping parents in Angier, Garner, and Smithfield through this difficult and often convoluted process.

Call Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 or online to schedule a consultation.

Paternity is Often Contested

There are situations in which a man does not believe he is the biological father of a child or wants to avoid taking responsibility. In this case, the mother can file a paternity claim in court or through North Carolina’s Child Support Services, which will file a claim to establish paternity and child support jointly.

It benefits mothers to force the establishment of paternity so that they can receive child support, have their child covered under the father’s health insurance, and so that the child can inherit the father’s property or veteran’s benefits. Without establishing paternity, the mother and child cannot get financial help from the father unless he voluntary gives it. The only time limit for filing a paternity action is the child’s 18th birthday. However, mothers and children should consider bringing paternity actions as soon as possible.

There are also cases in which a man believes himself to be the biological father and the mother refuses to accept paternity. In these circumstances, the alleged father can file a paternity case in court and the judge will require that the mother and child submit to a DNA test. Fathers also benefit from establishing paternity, since this enables them to obtain visitation rights or custody.

The Court Process for Establishing Paternity

When a paternity case is brought to court, the parent filing the action or Child Support Services will provide service of process to the other parent. In most cases, the fathers are served with a copy of the paperwork regarding the case and given a date to appear in court. Then parents must appear in court, though they can hire attorneys to represent them. If a parent denies paternity in court, then the judge will order that a DNA test is completed.

The court can use a variety of evidence to determine a child’s legal paternity, though the most clear-cut way to establish parentage is through genetic testing. A judge will require that any potential father submit to a DNA test to determine the child’s biological father. A DNA test can be a cheek swab or blood test. Cheek swabs are common because they are quick and painless for both the infants and potential parents.

The DNA test is not the end of the paternity court case. Here is how it works:

  • If the DNA test shows a 97 percent or higher probability that a man is the biological parent, then the test will be admitted as evidence and it will be presumed that the man is the father. The father would need to provide clear and convincing evidence otherwise. Likely, the court will order that the man is the father and the child’s birth certificate can be updated to reflect this parentage.
  • If the DNA shows there is an 85 to 97 percent probability that a man is the infant’s father, then the test is admitted into evidence and used with other evidence to determine parentage. Other evidence can include the father’s actions or statements toward the mother and child, such as whether he ever admitting to knowing he was having a child with the mother.
  • When the DNA test shows there is less than an 85 percent probability, then the evidence is admitted to the court, but the man is presumed to not be the parent. The mother would need other clear and convincing evidence to prove he is.

Contact a Garner Paternity Lawyer for Help

Establishing paternity is often more emotionally difficult than legally challenging. Mothers who are arguing with their child’s fathers have unnecessary stress in their lives when they should be able to concentrate on providing and caring for their son or daughter. Instead, they are forced to take the father to court before they can seek child support.

Moms who need to establish their child’s legal and biological father should contact Breeden Law Office as soon as possible. Attorney Jonathan Breeden understands how difficult it can be to raise a child without everything in place and without receiving financial support. That is why he fights for parents to establish paternity, child custody, and child support. He guides parents through paternity cases in court, obtaining DNA tests, and ensuring their children are legitimized.

Call Jonathan Breeden of Breeden Law Firm at (919) 661-4970 or online to schedule a consultation.


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