If you are wondering why it is important to establish paternity, the answer is simple: establishing paternity provides a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as one born to parents who are married. This includes entitlement to benefits through their fathers such as Social Security, veteran’s benefits and rights to inheritance from the father. Some people also believe it is important to know about their biological family’s culture and medical history.
Who starts the process?
Either parent has the right to initiate proceedings to legally establish paternity. This legal process can be started at any time until the child attains the age of majority, which in Alabama is nineteen. In some cases, a mother may need proof of paternity in order to collect child support from the father. On the other hand, a man may seek a paternity test in order to determine whether he should be legally required to pay support. Either way, the State of Alabama basically employs three different types of paternity proceedings
Contested, Uncontested or Administrative Proceedings
In most cases, the issue of paternity is either contested or uncontested. Even when paternity is not disputed, there may be reasons why the parents need a legal determination to be made. The most common reason is that the parents are not married when the child is born, but both agree on who the biological father is. The uncontesteded consent process can be accomplished easily by completing an Affidavit of Paternity. This can be done in the hospital when the child is first born, or at a later time.
In some situations, paternity is contested, but the parties will agree to allow the Department of Human Resources (DHR) to order genetic testing through a purely administrative process. This way, the court does not have to order genetic testing, but it must still issue the order establishing paternity and child support.
If, however, the mother and alleged father do not agree on paternity (i.e., the man denies paternity), then the decision must be made by the court through a contested judicial process. If the alleged father refuses to acknowledge paternity or either party will not cooperate with administrative genetic testing, then the only other option is to go to court.
What about paternity testing when the couple is married?
If parents are married when a child is born, usually paternity is not an issue. The law assumes that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother. However, if there is a question as to paternity, this assumption can be overturned. Call our office today if you have further questions on paternity testing in Alabama. (866) 345-2528.