A paternity action in North Carolina asks the court to decree who is the father of a particular child. As a general rule, such an action is only necessary in a limited number of situations:
- The mother of the child was sexually intimate with more than one man around the time the child was conceived.
- The mother claims a particular man to be the father of the child, but he denies it.
- A man believes that he is the father of a child, but the mother denies it.
It’s important to recognize from the outset, then, that both the mother and the potential father of the child may have reasons to seek a paternity decree in New Hanover County.
Establishing who the father is
Before the revolution in genetics and medical science, establishing the paternity of a child was much more difficult. Today, the court is able to order a genetic test to establish the probability of paternity. A simple, noninvasive DNA test will be conducted. In most cases, this is no more distressing than applying a cotton swab to the mouth of the person to be tested.
The test will compare the DNA of the child, the mother, and the potential father, and estimate the probability that the man is father to the child. If the test finds a likelihood of 97 percent or more that the man is indeed the father, the court will recognize the results of the test as binding.
Using the results of the paternity test
Once the father is properly identified, that information can be useful to all parties involved:
- For the mother, the results can be used as the basis for further legal actions to obtain child support from a father who has refused to acknowledge a child as his own. A single mother, separated mother, or a woman married to another man will not have to bear the expense of raising a child on her own. A paternity test can also be used to terminate the parental rights of a man who is not the father of a child.
- For the father, having proof of a paternal relationship can mean success in a suit to gain visitation rights or even joint custody. This means the mother cannot exclude the father from building a lifelong relationship with his son or daughter. Some men also seek paternity tests to challenge child support orders by proving that they are not the fathers of particular children.
- For the child, there are long-term benefits to knowing with accuracy who her father is. For example, having a correct family tree will allow a grown child to understand her genetic health, an increasingly important factor in adult health decisions.
Starting a Wilmington paternity action
Speaks Law Firm is a North Carolina family law firm that handles paternity actions for clients in New Hanover County, Pender County, Robeson County, Brunswick County, and Columbus County. We are known for our compassion and discretion. To learn how we can help you, call us today toll-free at 877-593-4233. We are committed to the principle that every client is treated as our most important client.