When a child is born to unmarried parents, establishing paternity can make life a lot easier for the child as well as his or her mother. When paternity is established through the court, a judge decides where the child will live, when the other parent will spend time with the child, how much child support the noncustodial parent will pay and if the child’s last name should be changed. The process is nearly the same as divorcing couples go through when they have children. The main difference in paternity cases is there might be DNA testing involved.
DNA testing may be ordered in paternity cases when either parent is not certain if the person named in the case is the father of the child. The alleged father may also have the opportunity to acknowledge that he is the biological father of the child to avoid the expense of the testing. After that part of the case is settled, the parents, with the help of a family law attorney in Washington, Indiana from a group like Feavel Law, may agree to the terms of custody and parenting time. They also have the option to allow the judge to use his or her own discretion. Family courts typically accept reasonable agreements reached between parents and made them part of the court order.
When the child lives primarily with one parent, the other parent is usually ordered to pay child support. This money is not paid directly to the custodial parent or the children; it goes through the courts to be disbursed to the family. The court tracks the payments to ensure the noncustodial parent stays in compliance with the court order. Parents who fail to meet their obligation could face penalties that include seizure of their income tax refund, suspension of their driver’s license or even time in jail.
The ultimate goal of establishing paternity is better outcomes for children. Kids who grow up with both parents, even if they live in separate homes, tend to be more successful in school and interpersonal relationships. Child support also helps to ensure they have all the physical items they need to fit in with their peer group. Fathers who want to file a paternity action in order to guarantee their parental rights should contact a family law attorney in Washington, Indiana.