If you are a man who has a girlfriend who has recently become pregnant, there are a few things you should know about paternity. The first thing you should understand is the word paternity, in a legal sense, is used when no one knows who the father is. In most states, if a woman is married, it is the husband that the courts will presume is the legal father. This only leaves a woman who is pregnant but unwed.
Do not assume you are the father
No unmarried man is legally responsible for being the father unless the courts say someone he is, or a man decides to take responsibility. However, there is no good reason to assume you are the father. It is entirely possible that your girlfriend had a sexual encounter with someone else. Do not let your ego get in the way of considering this possibility. What this means to you is that you need to have a DNA test done when the child is born. Do not sign any paperwork at the hospital such as a declaration of paternity. Even if you are at the hospital when the baby is born, this in no way indicates you are taking responsibility as the father.
Do not agree to child support
State laws vary, but you do not want to give the mother any child support unless ordered to by the courts. In some states, simply giving the mother money will establish you as indicating you are the father. First establish, through the assistance of an attorney, whether you are or are not the father. If you are the father, a judge will determine exactly how much child support you owe each month as well as your visitation privileges. The entire process will be done according to law. If the DNA tests show you are not the father, the courts will exclude you as the father, and no further legal action can be made against you.
If you are married
If you are a married man and suspect your wife is about to have a baby that is not yours, in most states, you are not likely on the hook for being the father. However, you must act quickly. In some states you have as little as two years to bring this to the attention of the courts. In some states you must first file for divorce.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that when a woman is pregnant and you are told that your are the father, you should see a family law centennial attorney.
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