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The presumption of paternity and its importance

Children in Tennessee are born into many different family situations. They could be born to parents who are married to each other or to parents who are separated or never together in the first place. In any of these situations it is clear who the mother of the child is, but determining the father of a child may not be immediately clear. The situation the child was born into determines whether there is a presumed father or not though.

In instances where a child is born during the course of marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage ends, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. In situations where a child is born out of wedlock, then a man is presumed to be the father if he consents in writing to being named on the birth certificate or signs a form acknowledging that he is the father of the child. A man is also the presumed father if genetic testing demonstrates that there is a 95% or greater probability that he is the father. There are a number of other ways to establish paternity.

If a man is the presumed father the court can issue an order establishing paternity. This is important because in this order the court can also establish custody and parenting time as well as set a child support obligation. However, until a man is determined to be the father, the courts cannot do any of those things. So, establishing paternity can be important for men who want to protect their fathers’ rights to visitation and, potentially, custody. Establishing paternity can be crucial for custodian mothers, too, as it allows them to seek child support.

There are many men and women in Tennessee who know who the father of their child is, but if a child is born out of wedlock, then a man must go through steps prior to being legally determined to be a child’s father. This is an important thing to do though because establishing paternity gives fathers the right to have a legal relationship with their children as well as allow the courts to establish child support. These can be complicated matters, though, which means that experienced divorce and family law lawyers may be a useful resource.

Source: FindLaw, “Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-2-304” and “Tennessee Code Title 36. Domestic Relations § 36-2-311” accessed on April 9, 2018

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