Questions surrounding paternity of a child can cause a great deal of stress for family members. Fathers can face especially difficult conditions when it comes to establishing paternity. In the state of Tennessee, “paternity” defines the legal status of the father of a child. In other words, paternity determines the legal rights and obligations of the father.
There are times when the law will presume that a man is the father of a child pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, section 36-2-304. If the conditions of the statute are unmet, paternity must be established in order to determine the legal rights and duties of the father. This situation is relatively common, and the attorneys at Landry & Azevedo are well versed in the requirements for establishing parentage.
If you are in Knoxville and looking to establish paternity in order to gain custody, seek child support or visitation, or establish a parental relationship, get in touch with our office today. At Landry & Azevedo, our team of legal experts will guide you through the process of paternity orders in the state of Tennessee step by step.
Establishing paternity voluntarily
Paternity may be established voluntarily in the state of Tennessee pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, sections 36-2-305 and 318. At the time of birth, the couple may sign a form called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This document must be signed and notarized and then sent to the Office of Vital Records. This process is relatively straightforward and common.
Though it is an important document, child support, custody, or visitation rights are not outlined in the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. It may, however, be used in court to address these matters.
A man who is not or may not be the biological father should carefully consider signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Once notarized and sent to the Office of Vital Records, the designated father will be legally bound to care for the child until he or she reaches adulthood. This decision is a life-altering. It can bring great joy to a man’s life but also carries great responsibility.
If in doubt regarding whether signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, feel free to contact us with any questions. We have the best paternity attorneys in Knoxville, and we’re here to help.
Establishing paternity involuntarily
If at the time of birth, both parties are disputing who is responsible as the father, paternity must be proven involuntarily. To initiate the process, one party must file a petition to establish parentage pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, section 36-2-305. The mother, alleged father, child (via legal guardian), or the Department of Children’s Services may file this document with the court.
The court will likely require mandated DNA testing. Once the DNA sample is sent to a laboratory and identified, the court will issue what is called an order of parentage. Paternity will then be legally established, and the biological father will be added to the child’s birth certificate. At this time, the court might also address child support, custody, and visitation rights.
In the event that the potential father is deceased, the law provides other methods for establishing paternity for inheritance purposes.
Establishing paternity helps mother, father, and child
Establishing paternity is extremely important to the mother and her child. When the identity of the father is in dispute, it can be mentally and physically stressful, and cause many more personal problems. Additionally, establishing paternity benefits the mother by:
Fairly distributing the obligations of parenthood
Ensuring the father’s duty of financial support for the child
If the mother is seeking state aid, including TennCare or Medicaid, food stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), she may not have to file on her own. The state of Tennessee can request to establish paternity on her behalf and order genetic testing at that time.
For the child, a paternal relationship can be just as important as a maternal one. It is crucial for a child to grow up knowing who his or her father is, and to have some sort of male presence in their lives. Studies show children who grow up without knowing the identity of their father face more significant challenges as they grow up.
Children will also benefit from establishing paternity by:
Building and strengthening the relationship with their parents
Discovering family genetics and history
Understanding family medical history, both mental health and physical
Gaining access to benefits including health insurance, social security, inheritances and trusts, and more
Fathers also benefit from establishing paternity by:
Obtaining legal rights in regard to their child
Building and improving a relationship with their child
Proving they want to play an active role in their child’s life
Developing a rewarding lifelong bond with their child
Establishing paternity is an important step
Whether you are a father eager to establish a relationship with your child, or a mother in need of financial assistance to raise the newest addition to your family, establishing paternity is the first legal step to sorting out the issues.
If you are seeking custody of a child after a divorce or separation or wish to add your name to a birth certificate, legal paternity must be established. That is not always easy to do, and both parties may not agree on who is the rightful father.
Whether it is sought voluntarily or involuntarily, establishing paternity is crucial for you and your child. The attorneys at Landry & Azevedo are here to help you. Our team has worked with countless individuals on paternity suits and helped them achieve their goals, both in terms of family relationships and financial assistance.