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Establishing paternity with or without the parent's cooperation

There are a number of benefits to establishing paternity in Wisconsin. While the child benefits from the financial support the birth father provides, the father benefits from being able to have a legally-recognized relationship with the child. Paternity can be voluntarily or involuntarily established.

There are two main ways that the birth father can voluntarily determine paternity. If the birth father is present when the child is born, he can voluntarily sign a Declaration of Paternity or an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This document allows the birth father's name to be included on the child's birth certificate. If the birth father is not present at the birth, however, he can still voluntarily complete a document called an affidavit of paternity. The birth certificate can be altered to include the birth father's name. However, this affidavit must be completed before the child turns 18.

If the alleged birth father or the birth mother does not want to establish paternity but the other parent does, there is a process that can be completed. The birth father can file a paternity suit or the birth mother can work with her local Office of Child Support Enforcement. The child, the alleged father and the mother would then be required to take paternity tests. The alleged father will have a chance to contest the result. If he does not and the test indicates that he is the biological father, he will be legally recognized as so.

Child custody disputes can be a difficult subject, especially if one parent does not want to cooperate when it comes to establishing paternity. A family law attorney may represent a parent who wants to establish paternity so that he or she can seek child support or even have a relationship with the child. The attorney could walk the parent through the actual process of establishing paternity.

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