Standing to Establish Paternity

Over the past few decades, the structure of the “typical” American family has changed dramatically.  Whereas having children out of wedlock used to be totally taboo, many couples now choose to have children without ever getting married.  Regardless of whether the parents are married or unmarried, relationships will sometimes disintegrate and the parties will separate.  When the parties share children, it is important that both parents understand their rights and responsibilities regarding custody, visitation, and child support.  The first step to establish those essential orders is to establish paternity.  Like any other law suit, however, the person filing for paternity must have standing to file the suit.

“Standing” is the legal term used to refer to whether the people before the court have the right to actually bring the current case.  Standing is an essential element of very single case, and paternity actions are no exception. The crux of any standing inquiry is whether the person bringing the case can show that their rights are impacted by the issues in the case.  In the case of paternity, this would mean either the mother or a man who believes he may be the biological father of a child may file an action to establish paternity.  Some state agencies also have the ability to bring a paternity action.  When the state seeks to establish a child support order, it can file to establish paternity.  In addition, where a child has been abused or neglected and the state has had to intervene and remove the child, the state may also then file to establish paternity.

Of note is that when the mother and father are married at the time the child is born, the child is presumed to be the child of the mother’s husband.  This means that father does not need to file to establish paternity.  However, if another man believes he may actually be the child’s biological father, he has standing to bring an action to establish paternity even if the mother is still married to her husband.

Parties should also note that there are limits on when paternity can be established.  Regardless of whether the parties have standing, no action to establish paternity can be brought more than five years after the child reaches the age of majority.

If you have questions about paternity, call us today.  We can talk to you about your children and your rights.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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