What You Need To Know about Paternity Issues

Many legal problems can arise if a child's father is not legally verified. These can include everything from parental rights to child custody and support. When paternity is uncertain, establishing the father may be key to determining who is responsible for certain aspects of a child’s life.

A family law attorney can help in this process by establishing paternity and allowing parents to stay involved in their child’s life or ensuring that a child is financially supported. John Anthony Ward, LLC in Kenosha, WI, has represented families in cases of paternity issues for over three decades. Contact us today to find out how we can help your family.

Parent holding baby's hand

Establishing Paternity

Before the court can enter any orders regarding child support, custody, and other issues involving a child, a determination of paternity must be made. Here are the most common ways to establish paternity:

  • Naming the father on the baby’s birth certificate. Listing the father on birth records can be the most conclusive evidence of paternity. However, this does not mean that the child has to bear the same last name as the father. 
  • Written paternity statement. If the birth certificate does not contain the father’s name, either because the name was inadvertently left off or for some other reason, you can establish paternity through a written paternity statement. This can be a formal or an informal document, but in either case it is advisable to have an attorney look over the paternity statement before it is signed.
  • Presumed paternity, in which is the father is presumed when a baby is born to a married man and woman. This presumption can be rebutted and disproved, but doing so requires testing and legal action.

A paternity statement should be signed in front of a notary and notarized to give it the full force and effect required should a court proceeding regarding paternity be necessary. Both the birth certificate bearing the father’s name and a paternity statement are powerful pieces of evidence if paternity is ever put at issue after the child’s birth. If you find yourself in the situation of needing to challenge or establish paternity, we are here to help.

Paternity Lawsuits

There are several reasons why a paternity lawsuit might be filed, including:

  • To obtain an order of child support: This type of action is usually filed by a mother seeking support from the child’s father. Before the court will enter an order of support payments, a finding of paternity must be made.
  • To challenge payment of child support: This type of action is typically filed by a father who is fighting the order of payment. If the father is successful in challenging paternity, the court can order that no support payments must be made.
  • To establish a visitation or custody schedule: The obligation to provide financial support for a child is not the only reason to question paternity. A father may also seek an order of paternity when seeking visitation or custody with his child. Likewise, a mother might want to disprove paternity in an effort to deny visitation or custody. In both cases, a legal proceeding to establish paternity is the first step towards resolution when paternity is in doubt.

Paternity actions are not limited to biological parents. There are situations in which an alleged father or a stepfather can enter the legal paternity arena. For example, if a stepfather wishes to adopt the children of his wife, legal issues regarding paternity come into play. In this situation, the best way to establish paternity may be to terminate the rights of the natural father. Whatever the reasons for your need to initiate or challenge a paternity case, we are qualified to help.

Contact Us

Call us for answers to all of your questions about paternity issues. We can be contacted online, or at (262) 654-8868. We offer a free initial consultation and can help you decide the best resolution for your legal issues.

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"Mr. Ward and his professional team proceeded tenaciously to build a strong case in my favor. His in-depth knowledge of the law resulted in my twelve year old felony becoming just a misdemeanor. Mr. Ward is the third attorney to work on my case, but the only one who achieved positive results."

Emily Rogers


Kenosha Office

3636 80th St
Kenosha, WI 53142

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