These days, many more children are born to parents who are not married, sometimes leaving the paternity of the child in question. In Wisconsin, establishing paternity (legal fatherhood) of a child is determined in three ways: Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement, a court hearing, or Acknowledgement of a Marital Child.
Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement
For parents who are 18 and older, the easiest way to establish paternity is to sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (VPA) form which is typically available at the hospital where the baby is born or, alternatively, from a local Child Support Agency or Office of Vital Records. Before signing a VPA. If is important to understand that it is a legal document that establishes paternity of a child. Establishing paternity using a VPA can not only protect your rights to parent a child, but establish your responsibility to financially support a child to adulthood. If you have questions or are not sure about signing a VPA, it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with an experienced family law attorney.
Court Hearing to Establish Paternity
In some cases, a new mother will name a man as the possible father to a child, which may be met with denials or uncertainty. Other times a man may assert that he is the father of a child despite a mother’s claim to the contrary. In cases where parentage is in dispute, a court will hold a hearing to make a decision regarding paternity. If there are doubts regarding fatherhood, genetic testing can be ordered by the court. If the parties are in agreement or genetic testing is a match, the court can establish paternity of the father and go on to order child support, custody and visitation. A failure to show up at the hearing can result in a default judgement.
Acknowledgement of Marital Child
Many times, couples decide to tie the knot after their child born, hoping to provide stability in the child’s life by committing to marriage. If a mother and father get married after a child is born, the parents may sign an Acknowledgement of Marital Child form to establish paternity. The father can rest assured that his rights and responsibilities are recognized and will continue even if the marriage does not.
Contact a Wisconsin Fathers’ Rights Attorney
Establishing legal fatherhood protects the rights of a father and the child. Establishing paternity allows a father to have his rights considered before a baby is placed for adoption, and, he can ask the court for custody and placement of the child so that he can be a part of his child’s life. The child benefits from knowing his or her dad and can enjoy the financial and emotional support of both parents. If you have questions regarding Wisconsin paternity, child custody and support, contact our Wisconsin fathers’ rights lawyers at Probst Law Offices for immediate assistance at 414-210-3135.