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Charlotte Paternity Attorneys

Establishing and challenging paternity actions in North Carolina

Today, people build families in all kinds of ways. It’s not uncommon to have children outside of marriage. But when they do, it’s paramount that both parents have a role in supporting their child’s well being, both financially and emotionally. Sometimes one parent may be uncooperative and the legal system may have to intervene, in both legitimation and establishing paternity.

The Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC provide knowledgeable representation in all matters surrounding paternity. Our legal team has a wide range of experience and can work with you in obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

A father may want to establish paternity as the biological father of a child in order to afford them legal rights as a parent. In North Carolina, a father may not be automatically granted parental rights when the child is born out of wedlock. Legal and parental rights allow a father to have a part in making decisions regarding their child’s general upbringing, including where they live, their education, medical care or religion. Establishing paternity may also provide the opportunity for visitation or child custody.

The mother of the child may also want to have paternity legally recognized in order to receive child support, health insurance or other support for their child. Establishing paternity can also make a child eligible to inherit any property or assets from their father.

How does a father establish paternity in Charlotte?

When an unmarried couple has a child in North Carolina, they can sign an affidavit of parentage, often signed at the hospital after the birth. In these cases, both parents acknowledge the birth of the child and that they are the parents by signing this statement in the presence of witnesses. When the father signs, he’s affirming that he’s both the biological father and the legal father, and his name is put on the birth certificate.

The mother will have custody, but the father can ask for a custody order in court. Of course this also means that he’ll likely have to make child support payments. The child will also have legal and inheritance rights, as well as access to their family history through both maternal and paternal lines.

What if my child’s father refuses to acknowledge paternity? What if my child’s mother refuses to let me take a DNA test?

If either party refuses to acknowledge paternity – the mother or the father – the court won’t recognize any paternal obligations unless one party files a paternity action. The mother and any man who believes he may be the child’s father can bring paternity actions.

Establishing paternity in Charlotte

North Carolina G.S. Chapter 49-14 allows a mother or father to file a paternity action to establish the identity of a non-martial child’s biological father. The court typically determines paternity via a DNA test, and all parties are required to participate. Genetic testing is non-invasive, usually done with a simple mouth swab, and considered highly reliable. Generally, the court recognizes paternity if the test results show at least a 97% certainty.

For a biological father to gain full legal rights, however, he must either marry the child’s mother or file a legitimation petition.

Filing a legitimation petition in Charlotte

Legitimation and paternity are not the same. Legitimation is about the legal status of the child. Establishing paternity doesn’t legitimate a child. Once a child is legitimated, paternity is no longer an issue. Differences between legitimation and paternity include:

  • Legitimation is a civil proceeding only. Paternity can be either civil in order to establish parentage, or a criminal order for non-support.
  • Only a father can file a legitimation petition, while paternity actions can be filed by a father, mother or child’s representative.
  • Legitimation petitions can be filed at any point in a child’s life, while paternity actions may have specific time limits.
  • Paternity actions don’t legitimize a child. On the other hand, a legitimation action does establish paternity, as a father must acknowledge paternity in a legitimation petition.

There are two situations where a father may need to legitimize his child:

  • When the child is born out of wedlock and the couple doesn’t marry
  • The mother was married to someone other than the biological father at the time of the child’s birth

If you have any questions about the difference between establishing paternity or legitimation, the experienced Charlotte child support attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can provide guidance.

Does a father have to pay child support if he’s not on the birth certificate?

Parents have a legal obligation to support their children, even if their name isn’t on the birth certificate. However, until the law establishes paternity, an assumed father can’t be required to pay support. Of course, if his name is not on the birth certificate, he also has no legal rights to visitation or custody of the child, either.

You can find out more about child support and paternity issues from our Charlotte attorneys, as well as resources from the North Carolina court system.

When you’re concerned about access to your child, sometimes the involvement of the court is the only way to resolve your issues. Whether you’re a mother or a father looking to establish or a challenge paternity, or a parent considering terminating parental rights or enforcement of child support, seeking qualified legal advice is a solid first step.

Knowledgeable paternity lawyers in Charlotte

At Epperson Law Group, PLLC, we understand the important implications of paternity testing and actions, and the effect it can have on your and your child’s life. We put our years of experience and legal understanding to work for you to ensure only the best results. Talk to us today. Our offices are just minutes off the NC-16. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.

Charlotte Office

10851 Sikes Place
Charlotte, NC 28277


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