Ballard Law, PLLC is a paternity lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi who can assist you if you have questions about establishing paternity. Paternity is the legal process by which the identity of the child’s father is established. Paternity grants important rights to the child, the mother, and the father.
- For the Father. Paternity grants the child’s father visitation rights to the child and the right to prevent the mother for putting up the child for adoption if she chooses to do so.
- For the Mother. Paternity grants the mother the right to seek child support from the father. Only if paternity has been formally established can the mother make a formal order for child support.
- For the Child. The child is also grants important rights to the child. For example, there are simple psychological benefits that come with knowing who your father is. There are also financial and material benefits to establishing paternity. The child is entitled to receive support from the father and the child is also granted legal inheritance rights from the father. Finally, the identity of the father can provide the child with important medical history and genetic information that may be important as the child grows and ages, or if the child requires specialized medical care.
There are several voluntary and involuntary ways that paternity can be established. Generally, if the mother is married, the state will assume that the father of the child is the husband of the mother. This holds true if the mother became pregnant before marriage, but the couple married after the mother became pregnant. However, there are situations where establishing paternity can be more complex. According to the Mississippi Bar paternity can only be established through the courts. This means that even if the father signs the affidavit on the back of the birth certificate and if the father’s name appears on the birth certificate, this, in itself, in Mississippi, doesn’t establish legal or formal paternity.
When does paternity need to be established by the courts? If a couple is unmarried, then one person in the family must file a complaint to the court to establish paternity or both parents must sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If a mother is married, but the father of the child is not her husband, paternity must also be established through the courts. If both parents agree about who is the father of the child, both parents can also sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which can be submitted to the Mississippi State Department of Health and Vital Records.
In many cases, paternity can be established when both of the child’s parents sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. However, if one parent is unsure about who the child’s father might be, if there is ambiguity about who the father might be, if the father refuses to acknowledge the child as his own, or if the mother was married and has a child from another man, then it might be necessary to establish paternity through the courts. Ballard Law, PLLC are paternity lawyers in Jackson, Mississippi who can assist you should you need to establish paternity through the courts.
Paternity Court Cases in Jackson, Mississippi
If you need to establish paternity through the courts, the process might seem intimidating. Yet, there is a specific process the courts generally follow, and with patience and guidance, paternity can often be established with either one or two hearings. During the initial hearing, both parents will be required to appear in court. At the hearing, under oath, the judge will ask the father if he is the father of the child. If the father acknowledges paternity at this hearing, then paternity will be established. If paternity is unclear or there is a dispute about who the father of the child might be, the court will order that the child, the mother, and the father all undergo DNA testing. The court will then set a second hearing during which the DNA tests will be reviewed. During the second hearing, the court will review the test results. If the test results determine that the man is the father of the child, the court will ask the parents if they both agree, and if they do agree, paternity will be established. At this stage, the parents can disagree about the test results, which may require that everyone get tested again, but this is rare. During the second hearing, both parties can also bring forth witnesses and other evidence to support their case. If you find yourself facing a paternity court case in Jackson, Mississippi, consider seeking the counsel of a family lawyer like Ballard Law, PLLC. Ballard Law can guide you through every step of the process, help you prepare for your court case, and speak on your behalf in court. While it is possible to navigate the hearing process alone, the courts will not be able to provide you with any legal assistance should you need it. For this reason, parents often seek the counsel of a paternity lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi like Ballard Law, PLLC.
Let Ballard Law Assist You with Your Paternity Case
Establishing paternity is important to protecting the rights of your child and it is important if the mother wants to make an order for child support. There might be cases where mothers may be concerned about establishing paternity. For example, if the mother is leaving a situation where domestic violence was a factor or if the mother is concerned that the father will seek custody rights, establishing paternity must be handled carefully. This is where having a qualified paternity lawyer like Ballard Law, PLLC in Jackson, Mississippi can help.
If you have questions about paternity and child support, or need assistance with any of these processes, reach out to the family lawyers in Jackson, Mississippi at Ballard Law, PLLC. Our firm will take the time to review your case, help you understand the steps you need to take to protect your rights and the rights of your child, and assist you with filling out an Acknowledgement of Paternity, filing a paternity court case, or seeking an order for child support.