In North Carolina, when a married couple has a child, the state presumes that the child is of the marriage. The husband and wife are considered the natural parents of the child. The law is different for unmarried couples.
When an unmarried couple has a child, the parent-child relationship isn’t recognized automatically. Establishing paternity, or legitimating a child, is the process in which a child’s biological father is recognized also as the legal father. Establishing paternity is important in order to inherit property and for child custody and child support obligations.
If the child’s parents aren’t married, there are three other ways to establish paternity in North Carolina: (1) the unmarried parents can later get married, (2) the parents can sign an Affidavit of Parentage, or (3) a paternity lawsuit.
In North Carolina, when a unmarried couple has a child and later marries, the child is legitimated retroactively. Additionally, the unmarried parents may sign an affidavit attesting to their parentage. This is a legally binding, sworn statement, which is difficult to overturn.
A paternity lawsuit may also be filed to establish paternity. Once the lawsuit is initiated, a court may order genetic testing. As long as the testing shows at least a 97% probability that the purported father is the actual, biological father, the court will establish paternity. Once paternity is formally established, a court may issue an order for child custody and child support.
If you wish to speak to a family law attorney concerning a paternity issue, contact Adkins Law. Adkins Law is located in Huntersville, NC and primarily serves Mecklenburg County and the Lake Norman area.