Paternity Attorney in Denham Springs, Louisiana
Establishing paternity can be an incredibly important step to take when deciding upon a child custody agreement or parenting time plan. All children deserve to know who their biological parents are, not only for the emotional and familial connection but also because each parent is legally obligated to provide for their child.
Whether you’re a father who wants to establish your paternal rights to gain custody or visitation, or a mother seeking child support from the biological father, at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we can help. Located in Denham Springs, Louisiana, we can help those living in the Livingston, Colyell, Holden, and Albany areas.
Why Paternity Is Important
Paternity is important to all members of a family for different reasons.
A child can benefit from knowing their biological father for many reasons, even if they don’t have regular contact with them. As the child grows older they may want to establish a relationship with their father and make connections with other members of their extended family. In other cases, they may be entitled to certain inheritance. Additionally, it’s important to know the health history of both your mother’s and father’s side of the family to help inform your own healthcare priorities.
A mother may want to establish paternity for help obtaining child support from the father who is legally obligated to financially provide for their child.
A father may wish to establish their paternity if the mother has been restricting access to the child or failing to uphold a parenting time agreement. Once paternity is established, the father will then be able to pursue custody and parental rights to be a part of their child’s life.
Establishing Paternity in Louisiana
There are two main methods of establishing paternity, voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary: The simplest way to establish paternity is voluntarily and this is typically done when the father signs a “Declaration of Acknowledgement of Paternity” or both parents sign an “Affidavit of Acknowledgement.” If the child is born at a hospital to unwed parents, this form is often signed there but it can also be done after the birth.
Involuntary: If one parent refuses to sign an affidavit and is denying paternity, they can petition the court to establish it through a paternity action. The court will then begin a proceeding to establish paternity which may or may not involve requiring the father to submit to a DNA test.
When Disputes Occur
The best thing you can do when there’s a dispute about paternity is to contact a family law attorney who can advise you on the best path forward and help you through the process. The first step you’ll need to take is filing a petition to establish parentage. This can be done by either parent, a lawyer working for Child Support Enforcement (CSE), or the child themselves if they’re old enough.
A hearing will be scheduled where a judge will listen to testimony, review evidence from both parties and potentially ask the family members to submit to DNA testing if necessary. In cases where the father refuses the DNA test, the judge may then choose to declare him the legal father regardless. The cost of the DNA testing typically falls to whoever requested it. However, depending on the results the other party may end up paying. For example, if the mother requests the test and it is positive, then the father will be forced to pay for it.
Paternity Attorney Serving
Denham Springs, Louisiana
If you’d like to consult with an experienced lawyer about questions or concerns you have about the paternity of your child, reach out to us at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham in Denham Springs, Louisiana.