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Paternity

 

If you have a child or children with an individual to whom you are not married, you must file a Petition to Establish the Parental Relationship or a Paternity lawsuit in order to obtain court orders regarding your child custody, visitation, and/or child support issues. 

In order to initiate a paternity case, you must prepare and file a Summons and Petition together with any other applicable forms.  Upon filing, the Court issues your Summons and assigns you a case number.  The other parent must be personally served with your Summons and other documents.  You can have anyone over the age of 18 serve the other parent at no cost or you may choose to have our office have the other parent served by our registered process servers at an additional fee.   

Once the other parent is served with your Summons and other documents, he or she will have 30 days to file the appropriate documents in Court to contest your matter or they can opt to do nothing. 

If the other parent does not file the necessary documents with the Court to contest, your paternity may proceed by default.  You must prepare and file the default package with the Court.  After the Court processes your default package, you must then prepare and file the judgment package to finalize your paternity.  As you are requesting orders to establish the parental relationship, including the issues of child custody, visitation, and child support, the Court may request that you attend a Default Trial in order for the Judge to make a ruling on these issues.  This process usually takes a minimum of six months to complete. 

If the other parent does file the necessary documents with the Court to contest, you must then complete your paternity by either agreement or trial. 

If you and the other parent can agree to all the issues involved in your paternity, i.e. child custody, visitation, and child support, your paternity can be completed by agreement.  You and the other parent must complete all of the necessary documents, including the agreement, in order to have the Court finalize your paternity. 

If you and the other parent cannot agree to all of the issues involved in your paternity, then a trial date must be requested so that you can go before a Judge in order to obtain your final judgment regarding your child custody, visitation, and child support.  You must prepare all of the mandated trial documents and submit them in a timely manner in order for your trial to proceed.  If it becomes necessary for you to go to trial, it is always recommended that you have an attorney appear with you so that you have appropriate representation as this hearing will result in the Judge rendering a final decision on your child custody, visitation, and child support issues. 
 


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Last modified: 05/10/07.
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