What Is an Affidavit of Parentage?
Legal matters involving children are often complicated and emotionally charged. Disputes concerning parenthood can be particularly challenging because they have long-lasting implications regarding child custody, visitation rights, child support, and more.
If you are involved in a dispute over parenthood, it’s crucial to understand what Affidavits of Parentage entail. If you have questions or need legal assistance, we’re in your corner to help. Since opening our practice in 1998, the attorneys at Kurtz & Blum have helped families across North Carolina resolve a wide variety of family law disputes.
To schedule a confidential consultation, call Kurtz & Blum today or contact us online.
Definition of Affidavit of Parentage
An Affidavit of Parentage is more or less what it sounds like. Put simply, an Affidavit of Parentage is a voluntary, legally binding statement of paternity signed by the parents of a child. It’s a simple form that both the child’s mother and father sign affirming that the man who signed the form is the child’s presumed father.
An Affidavit of Parentage focuses on the father because without genetic testing on the child, there’s no way to prove who is the child’s father. An Affidavit of Parentage carries the same effect as an order of paternity, in that it gives the person named as the child’s father certain rights and responsibilities.
Once the Affidavit of Parentage is signed, the father has shared custody over the child with the mother and is obligated to financially support the child. The legal document also gives the child the right to inherit assets from the father’s estate once the father dies.
Legal Definition of Fatherhood
There is no single legal definition of fatherhood in North Carolina. Rather, a number of factors go into determining paternity. Once paternity is established, the person who has been found to be the child’s legal father has an obligation to support that child, and the father might gain certain rights regarding child custody and visitation.
If a child is born to a mother who is not married, the alleged biological father is usually referred to as the putative father. If the putative father wishes to gain custody and visitation rights over the child, he will have to establish paternity. This can be done through an Affidavit of Parentage or by other means, depending on the circumstances in the case and the relationship between the child’s parents.
How to Establish Paternity in NC
There are several ways to establish paternity under North Carolina law. If the child’s mother was married when the child was conceived and/or when the child was born, her husband is automatically assumed to be the legal and biological father. The father and mother will be listed on the child’s birth certificate at the hospital to establish paternity, and that’s generally the end of the issue.
However, if the mother isn’t married at the time the child is born, paternity needs to be established in some other way. If the mother and father are on good terms, an Affidavit of Parentage can resolve the issue quickly. On the other hand, if the mother and father are not on good terms, other means may be necessary to establish paternity, such as:
- A civil suit filed by the mother to establish paternity
- A complaint for failure to pay child support, in which paternity must be established before the father can be held responsible for failure to properly provide for his child
- A special court order to legitimize a child, often so the child can claim his or her rightful inheritance from the father
If the child’s putative father does not wish to acknowledge paternity, a court order will be necessary to resolve the dispute. A mother who wants to obtain a court order declaring paternity must file a lawsuit before the child’s 18th birthday.
Do I Need a Child Custody Lawyer?
Some paternity issues can be resolved without hiring a child custody lawyer. If you and your partner have a child, have a healthy relationship, and are not married, you might be able to settle any paternity issues by signing an Affidavit of Parentage yourselves.
On the other hand, if there is a significant dispute over the paternity of a child, the best option is to contact a child custody lawyer. These disputes can quickly become ugly and emotional, but your attorney can give you an objective appraisal of the situation, advise you of your options, and help you work toward the outcome you’re looking for.
In any case, signing an Affidavit of Parentage can have legal consequences, so it’s typically best to contact an attorney who can help you understand the potential implications and possible future impacts.
How Our Raleigh Family Lawyers Can Help
Paternity disputes can tear a family apart. It’s important to hire an experienced family law attorney to help resolve these complex matters. At Kurtz & Blum, we’re prepared to handle a range of disputes, including:
- Helping mothers get a court order to compel the putative father to take a blood or DNA test in order to establish paternity and help collect child support from the father
- Helping fathers fill out an Affidavit of Parentage or go through other legal means to claim their parental rights
- Helping men prove that they are not fathers in order to absolve them of parental responsibilities with regard to a child
Our team is standing by to help you resolve your paternity issues. To learn more about how we can help, contact us now.