In North Carolina, when a married couple has a child, both spouses are considered legal parents. But when an unmarried couple has a child, paternity is not automatically recognized by the law, and either parent may need help from an experienced Winston-Salem paternity lawyer.
HOW IS PATERNITY ESTABLISHED IN NORTH CAROLINA?
Without having paternity established, a parent may lose the benefits – or avoid the obligations – of legal parenthood. A child’s right to inherit property, for example, maybe compromised if the child’s father is not legally identified. North Carolina offers four ways to establish paternity:
- If the parents are married when a child is born, paternity is automatic.
- The father and mother may marry after the child’s birth.
- The parents can sign an “Affidavit of Parentage.”
- If a paternity lawsuit is filed, paternity will be decided by a North Carolina judge.
WHO CAN BRING A PATERNITY CASE BEFORE THE COURT?
A paternity action can be brought to the court by either of the parents – or by the state of North Carolina if Child Support Services believes that a biological father has not been providing financial support because his paternity has not been legally established.
The parties involved may settle a paternity case out-of-court. If a paternity case goes to trial, a judge decides if the alleged father is in fact the child’s biological – and therefore legal – father.
If genetic testing is ordered by the court, and if that testing shows at least a 97 percent likelihood that the alleged father is in fact the biological father, the court will establish paternity and issue a paternity order.
At that time the court can also issue an order regarding the father’s financial obligations and his custody and visitation rights.
WHY IS ESTABLISHING PATERNITY IMPORTANT FOR A CHILD?
Establishing paternity can be critically important for a child. Establishing paternity guarantees a child’s ability to access medical histories from both sides of the family, and it lets a child qualify, through the father, for Social Security benefits, medical insurance, and other inheritance benefits.
WHO CAN HELP YOU WITH A PATERNITY CLAIM?
Unmarried North Carolina couples need to be certain that their child’s paternity has been legally established. If you have specific questions about paternity, you should contact an experienced Winston-Salem paternity lawyer at LAWSMITH, the Law Offices of J. Scott Smith.
The family law team at LAWSMITH has established a reputation throughout the state of North Carolina for legal excellence. We have represented scores of clients in the greater Winston-Salem area in custody and paternity cases, and we are ready to work for you.
If you need to establish that you are a child’s father – or that you are not in fact a child’s father – speak to a paternity lawyer at LAWSMITH as quickly as possible. We will review your situation and advise you regarding the most positive and constructive way to move forward.
HOW CAN YOU CONTACT THE FAMILY LAW TEAM AT LAWSMITH?
If you are dealing with any matter related to custody or paternity, call LAWSMITH at 336-306-8644 – or use the contact form here on our website – and contact us today.
Offices are located in Winston-Salem at 250 Executive Park Boulevard, Suite 100, and in Greensboro at 204 Muirs Chapel Road, Suite 104. Let us go to work for you and your child.