Paternity suits are civil claims brought against an unwed father by the mother of their mutual child. The purpose of the action is to establish paternity. Paternity is the establishment of formal legal rights between a father and child. This post will go over the basics of paternity suits and how they are litigated.
Paternity suits are critical because they involve child support, custody, visitation, inheritance issues, and health care. As you can imagine, the establishment of parental rights over a child entails significant costs and burdens on the father. Therefore, it is critical that the outcome is accurate and just.
Most states require the moving party (the party trying to establish paternity) to prove their case by a "preponderance of the evidence." The preponderance standard is among the lowest evidentiary standards in law, it only requires the moving party to show that the father is more likely than not the biological parent.
In the old days, paternity was established with witnesses, documents, and other circumstantial evidence. That process is slowly eroding away. Modern technology allows the litigants to test the DNA of the potential father of the child. But, DNA tests are still expensive, and not everyone can afford them. Therefore litigation over evidence is still an important part of the process.
If the father loses the suit ( the DNA comes back 'positive'), he will be ordered to pay child support, including back-owed child support.
If you are contesting for your parental rights, you may want to speak with a lawyer. An attorney can guide you through the process, advise you on the evidence and documents you will need, and represent you in the paternity suit. You don't need to go through it on your own. A lawyer can help you.