Every child is born with both a mother and father. Parents who are married to each other when a child is born are both considered to be the child’s natural parents. However, when a child is born to unmarried parents establishing the child’s father is not as simple. It is important to establish paternity for a number of reasons. Most importantly, a child has the right to have a relationship with both parents. A father’s influence on a child can be significant, even if the parents are not living together. The establishment of legal paternity in Greenville, South Carolina allows a child to have rights and privileges.
Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit
The easiest and most straightforward method for establishing paternity in Greenville, South Carolina is for the parents to voluntarily sign a paternity acknowledgment. This affidavit can be signed by parents in the hospital immediately after the birth of their child. The hospital staff is able to provide the document to parents; however, parents cannot be forced to sign the affidavit. If the parents sign it, the hospital forwards it to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Office of Vital Records. When one or both parents do not wish to sign the document the hospital staff takes no further action.
Importantly, the affidavit cannot be completed at the hospital if the mother is legally married but has a baby with another man. This is because the baby’s father is presumed to be the husband when a couple is married. Therefore, additional actions would be necessary to properly establish paternity in these circumstances.
The Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit can be canceled by either party within 60 days of the last signature date. Rescinding this acknowledgment legally cancels paternity, and the father is no longer responsible for the child. It does not remove the father’s name from the birth certificate if it was already placed on the document. The father’s name can be removed by an order from a family court judge.
Who is a Child’s Presumed Father?
There is a presumption of paternity in some cases. A man is presumed to be a child’s natural parent in cases where:
- The mother was married to the man at the time of the birth
- The child was born just after a married couple separated
- A child is born to a married couple within 280 days of the termination of marriage by death, divorce, dissolution or annulment
- The parents had tried to get married prior to the child’s birth, but the marriage was declared invalid
It is possible that there is more than one presumed father. In this situation, the South Carolina Department of Social Services Child Support Services Division (CSSD) will contact all potential fathers to request a DNA sample for genetic testing.
Establishing Paternity in Greenville, South Carolina
When the father has not been acknowledged, and no affidavit was signed, the mother may be able to seek help from CSSD. A caseworker will be assigned to your case. The caseworker will review all aspects of your situation and must obtain information from you about your pregnancy and facts about the relationship with the possible father. This information will be kept confidential. You must also provide documentation of the birth, proof of marriage or divorce and other documents that are requested in your particular case.
CSSD will assist in establishing paternity of your child. Legal paternity can only be established by a court with the presentation of genetic paternity tests that were completed. CSSD will request a paternity test be completed by the suspected father. In cases of more than one possible father, DNA tests will be requested from all of them. DNA tests are considered to be very accurate, and family courts utilize the results to establish paternity. The tests are also used to rule out any potential men who are not the child’s father.
The results of the test are generally available in about three to four weeks. The results are sent to CSSD. There are three tests required including one for the mother, father, and child. Additional tests may be required when there is more than one possible father. If a man is determined through DNA testing to be the child’s biological father, he is responsible for paying the test fee.
In South Carolina, a paternity test must show a likelihood of at least 95% in order to establish paternity. CSSD will review the information and set a hearing date. The hearing will establish paternity and child support. CSSD can establish paternity through a written order, or the court may issue an order. This order provides legal paternity for your child.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Greenville, South Carolina
There are benefits for establishing paternity in South Carolina. The biological father is required to provide financial support for his child. Child support is established through a court order in family court. The parents must attend a hearing and provide information about their employment status, income, and other factors. Child support is calculated based on various factors. Generally, the non-custodial parent provides child support.
In addition to child support, the biological father is allowed visitation with his child unless there is a reason that he is not fit to be allowed visits. The court establishes a schedule for visitation with the child along with terms of visitation. Both parents are required to obey court-ordered visitation. If you or the other parent failed to adhere to the order, there could be legal consequences.
Fathers have the right to see their children. The only way to enforce this right is by first establishing paternity and then going through the proper court proceedings. Although parents may agree to visitation and support, it is always best to have the details established legally through a court order. This is the only way to protect the agreement and ensure that the child’s rights are protected.
Consult with a Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Case
Whether you are a parent seeking to establish your child’s paternity, it is best to have it legally determined. You can best accomplish this with assistance from a Greenville, S.C. paternity lawyer. Contact Elliot Frazier Law Firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.