Brentwood Paternity Attorney
By establishing paternity of a child, a man becomes a child’s legal father and is granted the rights and obligations of being a parent. While paternity is automatically established when a child is born to two married parents, this is not the case for unmarried parents, in which case, specific steps must be taken. Establishing paternity can be complicated, especially if one of the parties is resistant, so if you want to establish paternity of your own child, or a former partner is fraudulently attempting to claim parenthood, it is important to reach out to a Brentwood paternity attorney, who can advise you.
Establishing Paternity in Tennessee
In Tennessee, paternity can be established voluntarily or involuntarily. To voluntarily establish paternity, both a child’s mother and father must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. Often, this is done at the hospital when the child is born, but a form can also be obtained and signed later on. Once this form has been signed, notarized, and filed with the Office of Vital Records, the man in question will be considered a child’s legal father and his name will be added to the birth certificate.
Involuntary establishment of paternity, on the other hand, is more complicated, as it requires a court proceeding and a dispute over paternity. To begin the process, a parent, child, or the Tennessee Department of Human Services, must file a Petition to Establish Parentage. If one of the parents denies parentage, the court will order a DNA test. If the results of this test indicate that a man is a child’s father, the court will issue an order of parentage. During these proceedings, courts can also issue rulings on custody, visitation, and support.
In Tennessee, courts can also terminate parental rights, but only if there is clear and convincing evidence that:
- A parent willfully failed to support the child;
- A parent willfully failed to make support payments despite being financially able to do so; or
- A parent willfully failed to visit the child for at least four consecutive months.
Even if these requirements are met, a court will only terminate a father’s rights if doing so is deemed to be in the child’s best interests. A father whose parental rights have been terminated will no longer be required to pay child support. He will also, however, no longer have the right to visitation or to make decisions on the child’s behalf.
Brentwood Paternity Attorneys
Both establishing and terminating paternity have significant repercussions for the parties involved. By establishing paternity, for instance, a child can gain a better sense of identity, have access to important medical information, and obtain financial support from both parents. Alternatively, by terminating paternity, a father’s obligation to support a child will end. In either case, having an attorney on your side can help ensure that your legal interests are protected. At Beal, Nations & Crutcher, our dedicated Brentwood legal team have gained experience as judges, mediators, law clerks, and special magistrates in juvenile court, all of which give us valuable insight into the legal issues facing parents. Call 615-861-2304 to set up an evaluation of your own case.