Men can be in a difficult position when their biological relationship to a child is in question. Whether they want to be a child’s legal parent or not, the idea that they may not be can create confusion and sometimes anger.
To resolve these emotions and confirm or deny the biological relationship between a man and a child, legal action may be necessary.
Why it is important to establish paternity
Too many people dismiss paternity claims as something for daytime TV and talk shows. However, the fact is that establishing paternity is critical for at least a few reasons.
- It determines whether a man has the right to seek custody of the child.
- It determines whether a mother has the right to seek child support from the father.
- It provides potentially vital information about a child’s medical and cultural background.
Paternity actions can be necessary when a mother and alleged father were not in a monogamous relationship. They may also be appropriate when parents are in a committed relationship but unmarried, or if parents are married but the mother had an affair.
Ways to establish paternity
As this article notes, there are a few ways to determine paternity in Wisconsin. The method will depend greatly on the mother and alleged father’s individual situation.
- Parents can acknowledge paternity voluntarily. When they agree on parentage, both parents can sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form as soon as possible after a child is born.
- Parents can get married. If there are no challenges to the legal father’s identity, mother and father can get married and sign an Acknowledgement of Marital Child form.
- Parties can take the case to court. If a mother and alleged father do not agree on paternity, there will be a court hearing. At this point, either party may request a genetic test. If the man does not show up for the hearing, the court may enter a default ruling naming him the legal father.
Paternity is a serious issue for mothers, alleged fathers, and the child involved. As such, it is important not to take such matters lightly. Before signing anything or making any decisions about your legal options, you would be wise to consult an attorney.