Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity Actions  

The topic of paternity is often fraught with anxious feelings or circumstances. The fact that paternity is under question may mean that:

  • The parents are not married to each other
  • ·A married man — perhaps going through a time of separation or leading up to a divorce — does not believe he is the biological father of a baby soon to be born of his wife, or already born
  • The new husband of the mother (or the new wife of the father) may want to adopt a stepchild when the biological father is out of the picture

Both parents may feel worried or uncertain about the roles each will play in the child's life. Howard Law Firm, PLLC, in Benton is a resource of knowledge and help for parents seeking paternity actions. I am attorney Lori D. Howard and I welcome your questions such as the following:

Q. If a man's name is listed on the birth certificate and the parents are unmarried, does this confirm that he is the legal father?

A. Not necessarily. The father must petition the court for his father's rights if he is not married to the mother.

Q. Is an unmarried father entitled to custody rights when a paternity action verifies he is the father?

A. If he brings a paternity action and the court confirms that he is the legal father, he can petition for a custody or visitation order at the same time. Without an approved petition, he does not have custody rights.

Q. Will a family law judge give custody or visitation rights for a baby who is still breast-feeding once paternity is established?

A. The fact that a mother is breast-feeding an infant is generally not enough of a reason for the father to be denied custody or visitation. However, the father will need to bring a petition for custody or visitation before a court. These parental privileges are not a given, even when fatherhood has been confirmed. Talk to your lawyer about how to protect your parental rights as well as your child's best interests, regardless of the age or stage of the child's life.

Q. "What if our case is substantially different than many people's circumstances or special in some way?"

A. Every case is unique. A family law court judge will consider all factors presented in a paternity action or in protest. An individualized consultation with a lawyer is an important starting place.

Bring Your Own Paternity FAQ To My Attention

Request a free 30-minute initial consultation at my Arkansas family law firm by calling 501-794-6991 or sending an email inquiry.