What You Don’t Know About Paternity

Your girlfriend is having a baby and you are excited. You are there when the baby is born, you hold the baby, and you wonder if the baby will have your eyes or your curls as it gets older. A hospital administrator brings you a birth certificate form. After you examine it to make sure that the baby’s name is spelled correctly, you sign the form. You don’t know it, but you are now the baby’s “presumed” father. You have no custodial rights, but you are “on the hook” for child support. If you are married to the mother, your paternity of the child is presumed, even if you do not sign the form.

In Kansas, the ways that a man is presumed to be the father of a child include, among others, 1) the child being born during the man’s marriage to the child’s mother, or within 300 days of the marriage ending; or 2) the man acknowledging paternity of the child in writing. The form the man signs at the hospital serves as an acknowledgment of paternity, even though no one tells him that before he signs.

If a man is presumed to be the child’s father, and he or the mother later allege that he is not the child’s biological father, the person making that allegation must prove that it is in the best interest of the child for genetic testing to occur. In determining the best interest of the child, the court will examine many factors, including the presumed and potential fathers’ relationship with the child. Unless the court determines that genetic testing is in the best interest of the child, the results of genetic testing will be inadmissible. This means that you may legally be the father of the child, even if you know that you are not the child’s biological father.

However, being the presumed father and/or being on the child’s birth certificate does not automatically make you the legal father. You MUST file a paternity case with the court to be determined the child’s legal father. Filing a paternity case does not mean that paternity testing will occur. It means that you are requesting that legal paternity of the child be established. After paternity is established, the court could also issue orders regarding custody and child support, if requested. You do not have custodial rights to your child unless BOTH paternity and custody are established.

If you have not LEGALLY established paternity and custody of your child, please contact Cameron & Herrman, P.A. at (316) 265-0650. Our experienced attorneys will listen to the details of your case and advise you regarding whether a paternity case should be filed in your circumstances.

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