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Paternity

A paternity action can be filed in family court to establish if a biological relationship exists between a child and someone who may be the father of the child. This often occurs when an unmarried father wants custody and visitation of his child or children, but because the mother and alleged father were not married, the unmarried father must prove his relationship to the children if the mother does not want the children to spend time him.

If a child is conceived during a lawful, intact marriage, her husband is presumed to be the biological father under the law. The husband has two years from the birth of the child to challenge paternity if he believes the child is not his. When a child is born to an unmarried woman, the alleged father of the child can also be the "presumed" father under the law if he lives with the mother during pregnancy, provides for the mother and child, and holds the child out to world as being his. However, if there is no marriage, the man must prove in court that he meets the requirements of a "presumed father" status.

Under current law the issue of biological fatherhood versus presumptive fatherhood is hotly debated. Establishing presumptive paternity and/or biological paternity is central to issues of child custody and visitation and child support.

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