Paternity actions, or actions to Establish a Parental Relationship, are for cases in which the parents of children are unmarried and wish to obtain court orders for custody, visitation, and/or child support. A few of the most commonly asked questions regarding paternity actions are listed below.
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1. I am not married to my child's father/mother, and the child lives with me. Do I have to let the other parent see my child, if s/he's not paying child support?
IT DEPENDS. Is there a valid court order for visitation? If yes, then you have to follow the court order, regardless of whether the other parent is current on child support. You cannot withhold visitation because a parent is not paying support. If there is no court order for visitation, you do not have to allow visitation. HOWEVER, if and when the matter goes to court, your actions and behaviors could be brought up in court, and could impact your case negatively.
2. My child's mother and I never married, and now she won't let me see our child. What can I do?
You will need to file a paternity action in court (if it has not already been filed), and a motion to establish custody and visitation orders. Because the courts are facing budget cuts and limited resources, you will want to file the above as soon as you can. It is possible that you could not get a court date for 3-4 months. Once you have orders from the judge, they are enforceable by the police, so you can insist and receive your visitation. Please contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your rights.
3. There are current orders regarding custody, but I want to change them. Can I do this?
IT DEPENDS. To file a modification of current orders, there needs to be a change in circumstances, such as moving to a different city/county, or moving to the same city/county, or even the age of the child. A motion will need to be filed with the Court.
4. My ex and I were never married, and I signed the birth certificate, but now I don't think I'm the biological father. What can I do?
You will need to go to court and file the paternity action, and ask for a DNA test. If a court already determined that you were the father (without a DNA test), you could still be able to get that set aside and get a DNA test. There are time limits, however, that must be followed. Failure to be within the allowable time frame can and will likely result in zero relief from the courts. Talk to an experienced attorney today!