Murfreesboro Paternity Lawyer
20 March 2016IN: Family Law
Unlike other states, fathers in Tennessee who are not married to the mother of their child at the time of birth do not have a presumption of parentage. Tennessee laws do not recognize either a legal or biological claim. Parental rights must be established in court. Without such recognition, a father’s claim as guardian and support for the child may be in jeopardy. Also, without the Court’s acknowledgement, these rights are difficult to enforce, if at all.
Reasons to establish paternity
With Court-recognized paternity, there are advantages for all parties involved. When an order is issued, it has the full faith and credit of the state of Tennessee behind it. Why establishing paternity helps the child, or children:
- It allows them to form a close bond and relationship with both parents,
- It allows access to information on the family itself, including important medical history
- It allows them access medical insurance benefits and other legacy issues like life insurance, Social Security, Veterans benefits, and inheritance
Why establishing paternity benefits the mother:
- It creates a shared responsibility for parenthood and the raising of the child, and
- Creates a scenario in which both parents share the costs of raising their child, since once paternity is established, Court-ordered child support can be sought
Why establishing paternity aides the father:
- It provides them with certain specific legal rights and remedies, like the ability to ask a court for custody of or visitation with their child,
- It shows a clear indication of caring for the child, and
- It shows the court that he is eager to bond with the child and participate in its life
How can paternity be established in the state of Tennessee
There are basically two ways to ascertain parentage. Before the child in question turns 21, it can be done one of two ways:
Voluntarily. This is done via the consensual signing of specific documents at the child’s birth. The procedure is as follows:
- The parents obtain a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity while at the hospital. It is signed by both parties, notarized, and filed with the local Office of Vital Records, or
- A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity can be obtained from the Office of Vital Records, and once signed and notarized, returned to same.
This is done through proceedings in a Tennessee Court of Law
– One party files a Petition to Establish Paternity with the Court. It can be done by either the mother, the father, the child (through a guardian), or the Tennessee Department of Human Services (if public assistance is involved).
– The Court will order a DNA test if either party declines parentage, and if paternity is established, an Order will be issued to add the parent’s name to the birth certificate. Custody, visitation, and child support may also be determined at this time.