Establishing paternity may be accomplished by several methods. The most common method is through presumed paternity. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:
- He is married to the mother of the child at the time the child is born
- The child is born within 301st days after termination of the marriage; and
- For the first two years of the child’s life he continuously resided in the same household as the child and represented to others that he was the child’s father
The presumption of paternity can be rebutted by a court order or by the filing of a valid denial of paternity by the presumed father in conjunction with the filing by another person of a valid acknowledgment of paternity. Another method may be the mother and man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity.
A person or governmental entity wanting to establish paternity files a Suit to Adjudicate Paternity. A man who is a presumed father can file a denial of paternity if another man files an acknowledgment of paternity. Additionally, a Suit to Adjudicate Paternity may be filed to establish fatherhood or to show a man who is the presumed father is not actually the father. There are strict deadlines regarding paternity suits, such as, when a presumed father exists, suit must be brought by the child’s fourth birthday. Therefore, if you have a paternity issue, you are advised to seek competent legal counsel for your specific issue.