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Establishing Paternity in Wisconsin

 Posted on February 23, 2024 in Uncategorized

Madison family lawyerIn many cases, there is absolute certainty over who a child's mother and father are. If a child is born to a married couple, the husband is considered the child's legal father under Wisconsin law. However, suppose a child is born to an unmarried couple or after a couple has legally separated or divorced. In that case, some steps need to be taken to establish paternity of that child legally. A Wisconsin family law attorney can help you with this process.

Why Do I Need to Establish Paternity?

There are several reasons why establishing paternity of a child is essential. Multiple studies have shown that it is crucial for a child's emotional and social development if they have a bond with both parents. Establishing paternity provides children with a sense of identity and belonging by knowing both of his or her parents. It also gives the father the right to custody and parenting time.

Knowing who a child's father is provides critical medical history, especially if there are certain genetic conditions or traits that the child's doctors should be aware of. Paternity also allows the father to add the child to his healthcare insurance plan.  

There are also a number of legal reasons why it is important for paternity to be established for the child. Under Wisconsin law, each parent is financially responsible for their child. Determining paternity entitles the child to receive child support and other financial benefits from the father, including Social Security benefits, insurance, and inheritance rights in the event the father passes away.

How Does Wisconsin Address Paternity?

One of Wisconsin's most common ways to establish paternity is through voluntary acknowledgment. This process allows unmarried parents to acknowledge paternity without the need for a court order. Both parents must sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form, typically available at hospitals, birthing centers, county child support agencies, or the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Once signed, this form legally establishes the father as the child's legal parent.

If one parent disputes paternity or both parents cannot agree on paternity, they can seek a court order to establish paternity. Either the mother, father, or child can initiate a paternity action in court. The court may order genetic testing to determine paternity if there is a dispute. Genetic testing typically involves collecting DNA samples from the child, the alleged father, and sometimes the mother. Genetic testing results are usually highly accurate and can establish paternity with a high degree of certainty.

In cases where the alleged father refuses to cooperate with genetic testing, the court may issue an order compelling him to do so. If the alleged father refuses to comply with a court order for genetic testing, he can face legal consequences, including being held in contempt of court.

Contact a Madison, WI Family Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If you need to establish paternity for your child, having a skilled Dane County, WI paternity lawyer advocating for you can protect your parental rights. Call John T. Fields & Associates, LLC at 608-729-3590 to schedule a confidential consultation and find out what your legal options are.

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