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Paternity

Family Law Lawyers Serving Residents of Northern Virginia

Although many parents are married when their child is born, it is more common than ever before for children to be born outside marriage. When a child is born to a married couple, the child is presumed to be the child of the couple, but when a child is born to an unmarried woman, the identity of the child’s father is often unknown or disputed, and legal action must be taken to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is critical to protect the rights of both parents and the child, and it is prudent for anyone involved in a paternity dispute to seek legal counsel. At Robinson Law, our Fairfax paternity lawyers are skilled at helping people involved in paternity lawsuits protect their interests, and we will tirelessly advocate on your behalf. Our attorneys assist people in paternity matters throughout Northern Virginia.

Establishing Paternity Under Virginia Law

In Virginia, there are multiple ways in which paternity may be established. For example, if the mother and the putative father have an amicable relationship, paternity may be simply established via a written agreement. In other words, both parties may sign a statement under oath confirming and acknowledging the paternity of the child. This statement, commonly called an Acknowledgement of Paternity, must include a confirmation that prior to signing the acknowledgment, the parties received an oral and written description of their responsibilities and rights and the consequences that may arise out of the Acknowledgement of Paternity. Either party can rescind the Acknowledgement of Paternity within 60 days of when it was signed, unless a court enters an order related to the child. The Acknowledgement of Paternity has the same effect as an order or judgment issued by a court to establish paternity, unless it is later proven to have arisen out of duress, fraud, or a mistake of material fact.

In cases in which paternity is contested, a paternity attorney in Fairfax can help the mother or the putative father file a petition to establish paternity in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court where the child lives. If the mother files the petition, and the putative father fails to appear, the court may issue a default judgment deeming him the father. If the father does appear and disputes his paternity, or if the father files the petition and the mother disputes paternity, the court will generally issue an order compelling genetic testing to determine the parentage of the child. If the test results indicate that it is 98% or more probable that the putative father is the father of the child, the court will issue an order establishing paternity.

Paternity and Child Custody and Support

A putative father does not have a right to seek custody of the child and cannot be forced to pay child support until paternity is established. When a court issues an order establishing parentage, however, it may also include provisions regarding child support and the obligation to pay certain expenses incurred on behalf of the child prior to the establishment of paternity. Our Fairfax paternity attorneys can protect your interests in this situation. The order may also include provisions regarding child custody, visitation, and any other matters deemed to be in the child’s best interest. If the order establishing paternity does not contain such provisions, however, or if paternity is established via other means, either parent may independently file an action for child support or seek to establish the terms of custody and visitation in a court in the jurisdiction where the child resides.

Contact a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney

Determining paternity is a critical step in establishing parental responsibilities and rights. If you wish to define the paternity of a child, it is wise to meet with an attorney to discuss your options. At Robinson Law, we can assist you in seeking to establish your child’s paternity so that you are better able to exercise your rights. Our attorneys regularly assist people in paternity matters throughout Northern Virginia. You can contact us via our online form or at (888) 259-9787 to set up a confidential meeting to discuss your case with a paternity lawyer in Fairfax.