Not every child in North Carolina is born to married parents. Having a child out of wedlock is losing its negative stigma among many. But, if a child is born to parents who are not married and are no longer in a relationship with one another, if the child’s mother wants to pursue child support or the child’s father wants to pursue visitation or custody rights, paternity will need to be established. Establishing paternity legally identifies the child’s father as the father for legal purposes, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. There are two ways unmarried parents can establish paternity.
Voluntary affidavit of parentage
One way that parents in North Carolina can establish paternity is through a voluntary affidavit of parentage. This is a legal document signed by both parents and is notarized. It states that both parties agree that they the child’s parents for legal purposes. Parents do have the option of obtaining genetic testing before signing an affidavit of parentage. The signing and notarization of an affidavit of parentage can be done at the hospital when the child is born.
If there is a dispute as to the child’s parentage, paternity can be established through a court order. In North Carolina if the alleged father does not respond or attend the paternity hearing, the court has the ability to enter a default order for paternity. Therefore, it is important for an alleged father to be an active participant in the paternity process. Paternity can be established through genetic testing. Generally, this means a cheek swab will taken from the alleged father, the mother and the child. If a father does not cooperate with this process, the court can use the information in the Complaint to Establish Paternity and Support to issue a paternity order.
Learn more about paternity in North Carolina
Once a man is established as the child’s legal father, the child’s mother can seek child support from him, and he can seek visitation with or custody of the child. The establishment of paternity benefits the child in many ways. Not only will the child have the financial support of both parents, but the child may also have the ability to develop a relationship with both parents and understand their family history. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those who want further information on child custody and child support in North Carolina are encouraged to explore our firm’s website for further information.