Establishing paternity is critical to receiving child support payments or rights to visitation or custody. At Lawrence Law Office, we have represented men and women in paternity suits, so we understand this area of the law well. Winning a paternity depends overwhelmingly on the results of genetic testing, and our clients have little control over the results. Once paternity is established, our clients need to consider the next steps, and this is where the help of a seasoned attorney proves critical.
Why Paternity is Sometimes in Dispute
Paternity is often straightforward. Under Ohio law, a man is presumed to be the father if he is married to the mother at the time of birth. When a man does not contest this fact, he becomes the legal father. In other situations where a couple is unmarried, a man can voluntarily accept paternity by signing an affirmation of paternity, which the mother will also sign and send to the state. At that point, the man who signed is the child’s legal father.
However, in other situations, paternity is in dispute:
- A man might want to establish paternity so that he can see his child. The mother might disagree for various reasons, such as she is married to another man and wants him to be the sole father figure.
- A woman might want to establish paternity so that she can receive child support from the father. A man might disagree because he doesn’t want the financial burden of supporting a child that isn’t his.
- A man might have acknowledged paternity of a child, only to discover that the mother lied to him about his alleged paternity. A woman might fight any attempt to prove he isn’t the father because she wants to maintain a relationship with him.
The above are some of the most common reasons why people fight over paternity. There may be others.
How Ohio Establishes Paternity
With the rise of DNA testing, it is relatively easy to establish with certainty whether a man is or is not a father. Either men or women can file a paternity action in an Ohio court, and a judge will order a DNA test.
A paternity action is technically called An Action to Establish a Parent-Child Relationship. The correct form must be filled out and filed in the correct court. Notice must also be served on the other party. So a man who wants to establish paternity to gain visitation must send notice to the child’s mother, who can fight the case.
Unless an action is clearly frivolous, a judge will order genetic testing. Without this testing, paternity will not be established.
How to Win a Paternity Case
The most important steps are to correctly file the right legal documents in the correct court and provide proper notice. If a person does not follow these steps, then it can be difficult to get a court to order genetic testing, which is highly invasive.
Some paternity suits are complicated. For example, you might have acknowledged paternity based on a mistake of fact or because you were lied to, only to realize that you are not the father. Under ORC 3111.28, you can rescind your acknowledgement of paternity but you have only one year from the date it becomes final. Meeting with an attorney to protect your rights and analyze all legal avenues is key.
Establishing paternity is often only the start of the legal disputes for our clients. For example, if the test shows that a man is the father and he is unhappy about that fact, his attorney can help him with establishing fair child support.
By contrast, if a mother is unhappy that a man has established paternity over her wishes, she needs to fight for a parenting plan that works for her and her family. Coming up with a visitation schedule or even having a custody fight is the next step in these types of cases.
The right attorney understands that establishing paternity is often the start of a legal journey, not the end. For that reason, hiring someone with extensive experience in child support and child custody is key.
Contact Lawrence Law Office Today
Paternity cases can be emotional, often complete with allegations of fraud or deception. If you have a paternity dispute and need legal help, contact our law firm today. One of our attorneys can meet with you to review your legal options. Please call or send us an online message to schedule an initial, confidential consultation.