Not the Father? How to Properly Dispute Paternity
Not the Father? How to Properly Dispute Paternity
If you think you may not be the father, but someone has accused you of paternity, you don't have to wait to find out. Learn how to dispute properly here.
Keyword(s): not the father
Has someone wrongfully named you as the biological father of their child? Or has somebody denied you parental rights claiming you are not the father? You are not alone.
Around 300,000 paternity tests take place in America annually to confirm whether a male is the biological father of a child.
Parenting is a lifetime commitment that comes with many responsibilities including satisfying the child’s basic needs and financial support. Whether married or not, the law requires parents to take responsibility for their children.
For this reason, it is crucial to establish the father’s paternity at the time of a baby’s birth. It minimizes the chances of disputes over the rights of the father and the child later in life.
Disputes Over Parental Obligation
Law on parenting can be complicated, and it doesn't only address paternity. Either parent has the right to dispute the parentage for various reasons.
A man who would like to confirm that he's a child's biological father can request a paternity test. However, some legal conditions override the DNA test results.
It may be too late to ask for a paternity test when there is a court order stating the man the legal parent. The law can declare a person the father even when he is not the biological father according to genetic testing.
A father remains responsible for child support even if he had not planned for the birth of the child. The same applies whether the parents are living together or not.
In same-sex relationships, a partner can question parental obligation if he or she didn't intend to be the child's parent. There are still some intricacies that govern parental disputes in such cases.
Naming the Baby: Best Way to Prove Paternity
Most states in the United States do not regulate the naming of children. You can give your baby the first, middle, and last names of your choice. There is no requirement to include any of the father's names.
The naming process is quite straight-forward. The local health department or hospital social worker urges the mother to give the baby a name soon after delivery. They also ask some questions about the father, including his occupation.
The information is filled out in a form, and the mother receives the birth certificate. The document does not state the marital status of the child's parents. If the mother declines to name the baby or does not give up the father's details, it's possible to update the birth certificate later.
The most convenient way to establish the father's paternity is to include his name on the baby's birth certificate. Male parents have the right to establish paternity by signing an acknowledgment of paternity voluntarily. They can do this at the hospital or later.
Some states require unwed male parents to sign the voluntary declaration of paternity to have their name on the baby's birth certificate. If the father is not available, the mother cannot include his name. Both the parents should sign the voluntary declaration of paternity later on to accommodate the father.
When signing this document, beware that it has the same powers as a court order. Once submitted, it establishes the father's parental rights and obligations.
Paternity refers to the state of being a father. Most legal disputes over paternity revolve around the father’s responsibility to pay child support.
Failure to sign the voluntary paternity statement does not guarantee a father immunity from supporting the child. The state can go to court seeking to confirm that he is the child's father and demand child support henceforth.
Paternity disputes also arise when someone denies a father parental rights. If the man signed a paternity statement or an acknowledgment of paternity, his rights stand protected.
For maximum parental rights, the father must have maintained an ongoing relationship with the child. He may not acquire full rights if he stays underground until a custody dispute arises. The court may grant substantial parental rights if it's the mother who prevented the father from forming a paternal relationship.
Don’t Acknowledge Paternity When Uncertain
Babies bring joy to couples, but raising them requires sacrifice and dedication. Acknowledging paternity is the noble thing to do as a father. However, don't commit yourself if you are not the father or you aren't sure.
By signing the paternity statement, child support becomes your obligation for the rest of your life. You may also have to repay the state for any welfare payments that the mother receives. The only way to get off the hook is to prove that you are not the father.
There are for main instances when men find themselves in the middle of paternity disputes:
- Before the establishment of paternity
- When both parents have signed the voluntary declaration of paternity
- After a court order has established parentage
- Presumed parentage due to the marriage of the parents
Let's look at the best course of action when accused to be someone's father under the conditions mentioned above.
Before the Establishment of Paternity
When the local child support agency (LCSA) serves you with complaints regarding parental obligation, you have 30 days to respond. You can challenge being the father to the child in question and ask for a paternity test. After this period, the court may declare you the legal parent with no regard to any additional evidence.
To respond, fill out the following forms:
- Form FL-610 (Answer to Complaint or Supplemental Complaint)
- Form FL-150 (Income and Expense Declaration)
- Form FL-155 (Financial Statement)
Make at least two copies of each. The original goes to the court, a copy for the LCSA, and one for you.
Serve the LCSA with their copies either in person or by mail. A third-party (server) should do this on your behalf.
Your server has a section to fill out on the second page of form FL-610. He or she should state how they delivered the documents. They should then print and sign their name and hand you the original Answer.
Submit the original Answer, your copy, and any additional papers to the court clerk. The clerk will stamp your copy and give it back to you and keep the original. You may have to pay for the service, or you can request a waiver.
Chances are the LCSA will recommend a DNA test for you, the other parent, and the child. The lab will present the results to the LCSA.
If the test shows that you are not the biological father, the case could subside right there. Otherwise, you can accept the outcome, or you can request for a second test. You may have to pay for the second one.
When You Have Signed the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity
It’s possible to sign the voluntary declaration of paternity only to realize later that you are not the father or the child. In such a case, you should complete Form CS 915 (Declaration of Paternity Rescission).
You can pick the form at your local child support agency, registrar of births, welfare offices, or family law facilitator’s office.
Limitations to the Rescission Process
File it with the Department of Child Support Services not later than 60 days of signing the declaration of paternity. The other parent will a letter through certified mail informing them about your decision.
Rescission will not work for you if someone has already filed a case using your declaration of paternity form.
Options When You Cannot Apply Rescission
If circumstances hinder you from filing Form CS 915, try to cancel the voluntary declaration of paternity at the courts. The court will not grant your wish smoothly. You will have to give a convincing reason for withdrawing a document that you signed.
You will start by filing two forms:
- Form FL-280 (request for hearing and application)
- Form FL-281 (Information sheet for completing Form FL-280)
If there is no court case regarding your declaration of paternity, you are the plaintiff. The other parent becomes the respondent.
If there is an ongoing legal action connected to your declaration, your application will be part of the case. When completing FL-280, write down the same names for the petitioner and the other parent (or respondent). Include the case number indicated on the papers issued to you.
Let a family law facilitator help you with filling out the forms and make three copies. One is for you, the second for the other parent, and the third will go to the LCSA. The court will get the original form.
Present the Form FL-280 and other copies to the court clerk for stamping. The clerk will indicate the date, time, and venue for your hearing on all the papers. If you can’t pay the filing fee, ask for a waiver.
Serve the other parent with copies of and include a blank Form FL-285 (responsive declaration to application). Issue the LCSA with the relevant set of papers. The documents should reach all parties in person 16 days or more before the hearing.
It is essential to follow the right steps when issuing legal papers. Form FL-611 elaborates the correct process of serving these forms.
Your server should complete Form FL-330 (proof of personal service) for the LCSA and the other parent. File the same document with the court and wait for the court hearing.
After hearing, the judge may accept your application. You and the other parent will undergo a genetic test. In the case of same-sex parenting, you must provide evidence that your relationship had no intention for parenting.
If the DNA test shows that you are not the father, the court will make that declaration. If the outcome indicates otherwise, any court orders based on your declaration of paternity remain effective. The court's verdict can also be a basis for claiming child support, child custody, and visitation.
When the Court Has Established Paternity
It’s often pointless to dispute paternity when a court order has already established you as the legal parent of a child. Nullifying a parentage judgment is extremely difficult. The complication depends on the laws surrounding each case as well as the period elapsed after filing.
The moment you realize that someone has filed such claims against you, contact an experienced family law lawyer immediately. He or she will analyze the situation and decide whether contesting is worthwhile.
If there is a chance, the attorney will take you through litigation. The process involves filing intricate legal motions that may be too complex for you.
Presumed Paternity Due to Marriage
The Family Code section 7540 gives limited exceptions in the case of a baby born during a marriage. The spouses (or domestic partners) are the legal parents of such a child. It's a conclusive presumption which is hard to disprove.
It only exempts you if you were sterile or impotent at the time of the baby's conception. You may also contest if the mother conceived through assisted reproduction.
If you believe that you are not the father of the child in question, consult a family law attorney. The lawyer should advise if there is any legal channel or considerations to support a dispute for parentage
The Paternity Test
In highly contested parental cases regarding paternity, the court orders DNA testing of the putative father and the child. A cheek swab is sufficient to collect the required samples.
If you believe that you are not the father after the first test, you have the right to a second test by another physician. Otherwise, you can accept the outcome and take parental responsibility for your child.
Not the Father - The Final Word
There is a disturbing trend of women making false accusations against men claiming that they fathered their children. Some do this to seek child support especially if they are facing challenges raising their children.
According to data by the American Association of Blood Banks, about 30 percent of paternity tests turn out negative. That’s almost 100,000 out of the 300,000 tests performed in the United States per year.
Chances of being a victim of paternity fraud are very high considering these statistics. Since not everyone goes for paternity testing, the number of men raising other men's children should even be higher.
If you think you are not the father of that child, establish your paternity and get peace of mind.
Contact us today and have all your paternity test concerns addressed.