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Paternity And Child Support

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When there is a question as to who a child's father is, there are circumstances that can arise to make a legal ruling necessary. The court is therefore put in the position of making this determination and then deciding on issues related to child support. Keep in mind though, that today it is simply a matter of a DNA test to confirm a child's paternity to a 99.9 percent degree of accuracy. Below are the legal categories regarding paternity.


When a father has been acknowledged to be a child's biological father, he is referred to as the acknowledged father for the purpose of paternity. This occurs when a child is born out of wedlock and both parents agree (or there is an admission by the father) that he is the child's father. As a result, the acknowledged father is required to pay child support.


On the other hand, a man might be presumed to be the father until either he or the child's mother prove to the court otherwise. When a father is deemed a presumed father, he must pay to the mother child support. The criteria for an individual being a child's father include:

  • The man was married to the child's mother at the time of conception or birth, unless they were separated (in some states).

  • The child's conception or birth occurred during an attempted marriage to the mother (even when the marriage was later deemed not valid).

  • A marriage to the mother took place after the child's birth, but the man agreed to either support the child or to be listed as the child's father on the child's birth certificate.

  • The child was welcomed into the man's home and the man openly displayed the child as his own child.


In some states, a parent can be considered an equitable parent even when a spouse is neither the adoptive or biological legal parent. In this instance, the court might grant either custody or some degree of visitation rights. The courts look at the relationship between the spouse and the child to determine if the relationship is a close one and if they themselves consider their relationship to be parent and child. The court also looks at whether the actual biological parent worked to encourage this relationship to develop. If a spouse is granted custody in this situation, or visitation rights, he or she will also be obligated to pay child support. Equitable custody arrangements often occur in same-sex relationships.


An alleged father, often referred to as an unwed father, is a man that impregnates their partner but is not married to them. If the man acknowledges paternity or the court discovers that the man is the biological father of the child, the man will be expected to support the child financially by paying child support. An alleged father also has a right to a visitation arrangement with his child and may also choose to seek custody.

For more information, contact a local law firm, like Leonard & Kershaw, that specializes in family law.