New Bern, NC Paternal Rights & Paternity Attorney

father holding hands with toddler daughter

When a child is born outside of a marriage, one or both parents may want to establish paternity. When one parent becomes uncooperative, the legal system may need to intervene to establish paternity. Several reasons a parent may want to sway paternal rights and establish paternity include child custody and child support matters.

The Benefits of Working with a North Carolina Paternity & Paternal Rights Attorney

The New Bern, North Carolina family law attorneys at Greene Wilson Crow & Smith provide skilled legal representation in paternity matters. We are ready to work with you to obtain the best outcome possible in your case. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about your parental rights in NC.

Reasons For a Father to Establish Paternity

Going through the process of establishing paternity may seem daunting, but there are several reasons why establishing it is essential. For example, in North Carolina, a father may not be automatically granted parental rights when a child is born within a marriage. Establishing paternity allows the father to exert his legal rights as a parent. In addition to allowing a father to take part in making important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, establishing paternity in North Carolina can also provide the father with the opportunity for child custody or visitation.

Reasons for a Mother to Establish Paternity

In some cases, the mother of a child may want to have the father’s paternity legally recognized. For example, when the mother wants to pursue child support, health insurance, and other support for her child, she will need to establish it through the court system. Additionally, establishing paternity can make the child eligible to inherit his or her father’s property and assets. 

How to Establish Paternity in North Carolina

When a child is born outside of a marriage, the father may want to affirm his position as the biological father. Parental rights are not automatically established when a child is born outside of marriage. In other words, if a child’s parents weren’t married, the father can’t simply claim to be the child’s parent and receive legal parental rights. Instead, the father or mother must go through the process of establishing paternity. Under North Carolina law, there are several ways to do this and obtain parental rights, including:

Through Marriage Paternal Rights in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, when parents are married when a child is born, the spouses will automatically be recognized as the child’s legal mother and father. In this case, there is no need to establish paternity. When parents decide to get married after their child’s birth and state that the child was theirs, they will not need to complete any other steps.

By Signing an Affidavit of Parentage is a Paternal Right

When a child is born outside of marriage, the child’s parents can voluntarily sign an affidavit of parentage. This legal document acknowledges that the putative or assumed father is the child’s biological father. The father and mother must both sign the affidavit. 

Once the affidavit has been signed, the father can be ordered to pay child support and can pursue a right to child custody. Before they sign the affidavit, the parents should understand their rights and responsibilities, alternatives to signing it, the legal consequences of signing it, and the process to rescind or retract the affidavit. 

Pursuing Action in Court

Signing an Affidavit of Parentage is a voluntary procedure, however, affirming paternity in court isn’t voluntary. In most cases, establishing parentage in court is part of the child support process in North Carolina. Before a court can demand that a father pay child support, the judge must authenticate that the father is the biological parent. When a father denies paternity, the North Carolina court might order him to take a DNA test to establish that he is the biological father legally. 

After the court has established the parentage, the judge can order the father to pay child support and begin working on child custody and visitation matters. A parent can submit a paternity case directly to the court, or North Carolina’s Child Support Services (CSS) may file the paternity case. CSS has a legitimate interest in establishing paternity for children in NC to ensure both parents are providing for their well-being. 

Why Fathers Should Pursue Establishing Paternity

North Carolina law recognizes that in most situations, children benefit from having their mother and father in their lives. The mother may deny the father visitation or custody when a child is born outside of a couple’s marriage. Until the father establishes paternity in North Carolina, he can be denied his parental rights to spend time with his child or children. Unless the father voluntarily gives up his rights or a court orders his parental rights to be terminated, he has rights as a parent equal to those of the mother. 

In some cases, establishing parentage allows fathers to obtain child support payments from the mother. Many fathers believe that the North Carolina law always favors mothers over fathers. This isn’t true, and establishing paternity is an important way that you can protect your rights as a parent. Courts no longer presume that the mother is the most capable of caring for children. 

Once you establish parentage, you can pursue a child custody arrangement that allows you to enjoy physical custody and legal custody, which is the decision-making authority over your child. Courts make child custody decisions based on the best interest of the child. A family law attorney can help you pursue a child custody arrangement that works best for you and your children. In North Carolina, establishing paternity is an essential first step in this process.

How Do I Give Up Parental Rights In NC?

In North Carolina, you cannot unilaterally “give up” parental rights. Terminating parental rights involves a court process initiated by another party like the other parent, a guardian, or social services. However, you can voluntarily consent to termination if it’s in the child’s best interest. Consulting a family law attorney is crucial to understand your options and navigate this complex process.

Contact a New Bern, NC Paternal Attorney Today!

At Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, our team of New Bern NC family law attorneys takes your right to a relationship with your child or children seriously. Whether you are a father or mother who needs to establish paternity, our attorneys are here to help. We will work diligently to protect your rights and pursue the best outcome possible in your case. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith today to schedule your initial consultation.

Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, PA helps residents of North Carolina with paternal rights and paternity law including those located in New Bern, Pamlico County, and Craven County.