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I want custody but I’m unmarried. Is a paternity acknowledgement enough?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2023 | Family Law |

No. If you want parental rights, you need to file a paternity action. This doesn’t have to be acrimonious. Your girlfriend or ex-girlfriend might not oppose the action.

You may already have acknowledged paternity at the hospital. If you did, you probably have a Child Support Services case and may be paying child support. If you do, it may surprise you to learn that your parental rights are still not settled. It can be an unpleasant surprise.

If you had custody over a child born out of wedlock, you would have a custody and visitation order and a parenting plan. These are court orders you can get in a paternity action.

If you had been married to the mother when your child was born, North Carolina law would presume you were the father and, if you divorced, you would get these orders. Fathers and non-biological mothers in same-sex relationships other than marriage do not get this presumption of parenthood.

Why should I get an order of paternity?

If you and the child’s mother break up, you could be in the position of paying child support but have no right to make legal decisions about your child and no right to spend time parenting your child.

By filing a paternity and custody action, you gain these important rights.

It has been a few years. Can I still file for paternity?

Yes. As long as your child is not yet 18, you can file an action for paternity in North Carolina.

Is a DNA test required?

A blood or genetic marker test is required if it has been more than three years since your child’s birth. The usual genetic marker test is a DNA test. It’s also a good idea to have a DNA test if there is any doubt you are the father.

What if I find out later that I’m not the father?

If you acknowledged paternity or got an order of paternity that didn’t include a DNA test, you might run a risk of finding out you’re not actually the father. This could also happen if the DNA test was less than 99% positive. You can file a case to have your paternity set aside in such a case.

It’s well worth it to establish legal paternity over your child. It allows you to get full rights to made decisions regarding your child, pick them up from school, see their medical records, and more. It can also give both of you a greater sense of familial closeness.

Try to work with a lawyer who will work compassionately and go the extra mile for you.


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