When a child is born, there are generally two parents listed on the birth certificate. That does not, however, ensure that the man’s name on the certificate is the biological father. If the paternity of a minor child is in question, what should you do? The first essential step is to contact a local Mississippi lawyer who is familiar with the legalities of these circumstances.
What does it Matter?
Establishing legal paternity is essential for the child for a number of reasons:
- Child support is based on biological paternity;
- Inheritance rights are connected to biological paternity.
In addition to the emotional considerations, establishing paternity can be important to parents, as well. Due to the obvious legal responsibilities, their interest in biological paternity may become increasingly important if the couple separates, if the woman potentially had an affair around the time of conception, or if unmarried individuals are not together at the time of the child’s birth.
Testing in Mississippi
Mississippi law requires blood or genetic testing to have a 98 percent probability of accuracy in order to presume paternity.
Federal Requirements for States
Federal law requires states to address paternity issues in some of the following ways:
- Allow for the establishment of paternity for any child;
- Pay for state-ordered paternity testing when a parent or child alleges or denies paternity;
- Order additional testing if the initial tests are contested (although the contesting party must pay for the second test);
- If both parties agree or if there is a court order, include the name of the father on the birth certificate;
- Admit genetic test results into evidence in court proceedings if the results are accurate to a rate of 95 percent or greater.
Mississippi Legal Intricacies
In this state, the law assumes married parents to be legal parents of a child. Paternity is assumed, until proven otherwise. In some cases, even if a different biological parent is established, the man to whom the woman is married may still be considered the legal father. In the event of a divorce, the ex-husband, who is considered the legal father, may be responsible for child support. In such a case, the biological father may be denied any parental rights. If a couple does not address these issues at the time of the divorce, they may not be able to do so later if they have a change of heart. Only if the biological father later marries the mother will he have legal claim to that child.
If you have questions regarding paternity, the experienced, heavy hitting legal team at the office of Derek L. Hall, PC can help. Contact our Jackson office today for a free, confidential consultation.