We’ve all seen television shows and movies enough to know that sometimes a child’s “real” dad is in question. This happens outside of Hollywood, in real life, every single day. You are responsible to financially support your children until they reach the age of majority, or graduate from high school, or possibly indefinitely if they are not able to support themselves because of a medical condition. In Louisiana, there is a distinction between biological and legal paternity. A man is not financially responsible for a child until legal paternity has been established, even if he is biologically related to the child. Helping a child financially for about 18 years and possibly longer is a big responsibility, one you don’t want to bear alone, and one you probably don’t want to undertake for a child that’s not yours.

In legal matters involving children, the court will seek to put a child’s best interests first, which typically entails wanting the child to establish a relationship with both parents. Legal paternity is assumed when a child is born to a married couple. But if a child is born to an unwed mother and father, there are two ways to establish legal paternity. The father can sign an Affidavit of Acknowledgement, which is often done at the time of birth, or the father can be court-ordered to take a genetic paternity test to show with 99.9% certainty that he is or is not the biological father. Once one of these is done, his legal responsibilities, as well as his rights, kick in.

Even if a man is willing to sign an Affidavit of Acknowledgement to establish legal paternity without a DNA test, this testing is strongly encouraged. In fact, no matter what you are or are not willing to do, it is highly recommended to bring in an experienced Covington, LA family lawyer from Ellen Cronin Badeaux, LLC to help you navigate this situation. Paternity is about a lot more than what’s on a piece of paper. This isn’t just a legal matter. Emotions are high in a case like this. It’s difficult to be objective when you feel an ex partner has done you wrong and isn’t doing the right thing for the child or children. The last thing you want is to make a tough situation worse for anyone involved. That’s why an attorney should be brought in to help you with your rights and keeping the case moving in a way that is fair for everyone.

Remember, if you don’t have legal council and sign an Affidavit of Acknowledgement to establish legal paternity without a DNA test, you are assuming financial responsibility for that child even if it is proven later the child is not biologically related to you. This is just one mistake an attorney from Ellen Cronin Badeaux, LLC will help you to avoid.

If you are unsure about paternity, would like to have legal rights to your biological child, or want the father of your children to establish paternity so he can pay child support, call us now at (985)-892-1955. It is possible someone can speak to you over the phone right away about your paternity issue. Or, you can book time for a Covington, LA family attorney to have a consultation with you so all of your questions can be answered in person. After this initial time together, we’ll move forward with your case in a way that is legal and fair.

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