How to Establish Paternity in North Carolina

Establishing paternity may be one of the most important moments in a child’s life. When children know who their father is, they may have a much deeper sense of personal identity. On the other hand, establishing paternity in the Charlotte area can also have a tremendous impact on the parents themselves. These parents may wish to establish paternity for a number of different reasons, ranging from child support to inheritance. Whatever the case may be, it is important to understand how paternity is handled in Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties.

If you are approaching the paternity process in North Carolina, your first step should be to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced family law attorney. These legal professionals have experience in paternity cases, and they can try to guide you toward a favorable legal outcome. Whether you are trying to establish paternity to gain access to child support or you are simply concerned about the personal identity of your child, a skilled attorney can make this process relatively straightforward.

Why is it Important to Establish Paternity?

There are a number of reasons parents might wish to establish paternity. Sometimes both parents want to establish paternity, and sometimes only one parent wants to pursue this. Unmarried parents often choose to establish paternity, since paternity is not “automatically” established if marriage never takes place. Some parents may wish to do this for the sake of their child, making sure they understand who their father is for their general mental state and sense of identity.

Other parents may wish to establish paternity for matters related to child support. Generally speaking, it is quite difficult to collect child support from an alleged father if paternity was never established. Sometimes, alleged fathers deny that they fathered certain children, leaving the mother with no other option but to pursue legal action. Child custody might also be impacted by paternity. For example, a father might be denied custody because the mother refuses to acknowledge his paternity of a child. In this case, the father might take legal action to establish his paternity.

There are also other benefits that are linked to paternity. If paternity is never established, a child may have trouble gaining access to social security benefits, inheritance, medical insurance, life insurance, veterans’ benefits, and much more.

The Easiest Way to Establish Paternity

By far, the easiest way to establish paternity is to simply get married. In North Carolina, paternity is legally established if two parents get married before or at the time of conception. Parents can also get married after the child is born, and this results in “retroactive” paternity. That being said, you may run into certain legal issues if you get married after the child is born, so it is best to speak with your attorney to make sure paternity will be established.

Signing an Affidavit

Another way to establish paternity in North Carolina is to sign an affidavit. This is a legal document that establishes the paternity of a certain father. As soon as the father signs the affidavit, paternity is established quite firmly in a legal sense. This means that fathers need to be careful before signing this document, especially if they have doubts about whether they are in fact the real father. In many cases, affidavits are signed at a North Carolina hospital directly after the child is born. Hospital staff can assist you, and they will even provide legal witnesses that can observe the signing of this document. After signing the affidavit, the father’s name is added to the birth certificate.

Going to Trial

It is worth pointing out that both of the above methods are completely voluntary. No one can force either parent to sign an affidavit or get married. So, what happens if one parent denies paternity? In this case, legal action might be required. Both parents can go to trial, and a judge will decide whether or not the alleged father has paternity or not. Both parents and the judge can request genetic testing at this point, which can help prove paternity without a doubt.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching Mecklenburg County or the surrounding area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney who can help you with this matter, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We have considerable experience with family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, and much more. We understand that paternity is an issue that may be tied to a range of different priorities for you, and we can help you try to reach for a favorable legal outcome in an efficient manner. Our offices are conveniently located in Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville, so book your consultation today.