The issue of who a child’s father is can have huge repercussions. Emotionally, having proof of who the father is can give the child, mother, and father a certainty that cannot be replaced with guesswork and inference. It also allows everyone the opportunity to connect with each other on a more intimate level, in the knowledge that they are all blood relatives.
Legally, though, proof of paternity is far-reaching, as well. It can affect many other legal issues in the world of family law, from a father’s rights and responsibilities to the issue of child support and visitation and even to a potential divorce proceeding or eventual probate situation.
Because the issue of paternity is so integral to so many other pieces of the legal puzzle, how paternity can be proven in South Carolina is an important issue.
Presumption of Paternity
In some situations, a man can be legally presumed to be the father without a definitive test. These situations include:
- The child is born while the man is married to the child’s mother, or after the man and the mother separate, or within 280 days after the marriage ends by divorce, annulment, dissolution, or death; or
- The man and the child’s mother tried to marry before the child’s birth, but the marriage is invalid.
If either of these situations is the case, then the man will be considered to be the child’s father, unless it is proved otherwise. If there are multiple men who fit these descriptions, then genetic testing might be necessary.
Proof that an Unmarried Man Is a Child’s Father
When a man is not married to a child’s mother, proving his paternity of the child can be more complicated. He can either voluntarily step up and claim to be the father, or action can be taken against him to compel him to take a DNA test and resolve the matter scientifically.
Voluntary Assumption of Paternity
A man can voluntarily assume the paternity of a child through several means:
- By signing a Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit with the child’s mother before or during the hospital visit, an unmarried man can claim to be a child’s father, and his name will appear on the child’s birth certificate. Once he has signed the affidavit, the man only has 60 days to rescind it through the Department of Vital Records;
- If the parents do not sign the Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit at the hospital, they can also complete it at the Department of Health and Environmental Control or at the county health department where the birth took place; or
- If the child’s mother refuses to sign the affidavit, the father can fill out a Non-Custodial Parent Application for Services, pay the fee, and take a DNA test to prove his paternity.
Family Law Attorneys Can Guide You Through the Process
Proving that you are the father of a child has huge and long-lasting ramifications. Talk to an experienced Greenville family law attorney at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC to make sure it is what you want to do.