Establishing paternity is a critical step in both seeking child support and giving a father visitation or custody rights to his child. This decision affects not just the parents in question, but the child at the very heart of the matter. There are multiple ways to establish paternity, and working with an experienced Manassas family law attorney can help you understand how this step may affect your life.
Wondering what it takes to establish paternity and how you can either request child support or seek visitation rights? It’s time to talk to the team at Olmstead & Olmstead. Call us at 703-260-8752 to schedule a consultation right away.
How to Establish Paternity
Per the Virginia Department of Social Services, there are numerous ways that a father or mother may look into establishing paternity. If the child’s parents are married at the time of the child’s birth, there is no need to establish paternity—the law already views the husband as the child’s father. Of course, if someone else is the child’s actual father, they will need to take other steps to be recognized as the child’s biological father.
Both parents can also choose to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form if they choose. Typically, this is done at the hospital.
If the parents were not married at the time of birth and did not sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, there are other options available to them. They can open a child support case, which triggers a process involving a DNA test for the biological father and child. You may also petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to begin this process. Note that you cannot just take an over-the-counter DNA test to establish paternity. The law requires that testing be done by LabCorp offices in person to avoid tampering.
Paternity and Child Support
Determining a child’s paternity is a crucial part of getting child support payments started. This can be initiated by either the mother or the state. If the mother receives state benefits or support services and does not currently receive child support, the state can initiate proceedings to determine paternity and get the father to make child support payments. The mother can also choose to request child support at any time, and when she does, the father is required to submit to a DNA test.
Once paternity is established, child support is. typically based on the Virginia child support formula. The formula takes a wide range of factors into account, including both parents’ income sources, any alimony payments received by either party, the child’s daycare costs, the cost of providing health insurance for the child, and the time spent with each parent. This formula is not set in stone, though, so it’s entirely possible that your child support order will ultimately be higher or lower.
A Father’s Custody and Visitation Rights
Once a man has been named as the legal father of a child, he can assert his right to time with his child. What the court determines to be an appropriate time depends largely on the circumstances at hand.
For example, if we’re talking about a breastfeeding newborn baby, the father may get regular daytime and evening visitation without overnights until the child is weaned. If the child in question is ten years old and has never met their father, the court will likely start with brief supervised visitation periods that gradually lengthen and progress to unsupervised visitation once the relationship is more established. If the father has been involved in the child’s life from the very beginning and abruptly had his visitation rights rescinded by the mother, the court may order them to return to a timesharing agreement similar to what they followed before.
In short, establishing paternity grants a father both the rights and responsibilities that come with fatherhood. Allowing a child to grow up with a strong fatherly relationship and financial support from both parents lays the groundwork for long-term stability.
Address Your Family Law Concerns with Olmstead & Olmstead
Family law issues can play a significant role in your quality of life—don’t tackle them on your own. Let the team at Olmstead & Olmstead support you. Contact our team of Manassas family law attorneys now by calling us at 703-260-8752 or contacting us online.