Alabama Paternity Cases
There are two basic situations in which the issue of paternity may arise in Alabama. The most common is when the parties have conceived a child out of wedlock. This situation is increasingly common in today’s society in all age ranges and economic classes. The second situation in which the issue of paternity may arise is when there has been an allegation of infidelity during a marriage. In both types of cases, it is important to have an experienced Alabama family law attorney to assist you.
Family court cases
When parties who are single have children, the issue of paternity needs to be addressed. Until paternity is established, the mother has no legal right to child support from the father. Also, the father has no means to get legal custody or visitation until paternity is established. In Alabama, paternity cases are filed in family court.
There are two basic ways to establish paternity under this scenario. In some cases, the man legally acknowledges himself as the father by signing an affidavit of paternity. In Alabama, this makes a legal finding of paternity a much quicker, simpler and less expensive process. An affidavit of paternity allows an Alabama court to move on quickly to the issues of child custody, support and visitation. If the father disputes or will not acknowledge paternity, the Alabama court will order a DNA test to prove the identity of the father of the minor child.
Often, mothers file paternity actions to get child support from the father. In these circumstances, an Alabama court will not automatically address the issues of custody or visitation unless asked to do so. Simply putting the father’s name on the birth certificate does not entitle him to visitation. Many men are unaware of this. These fathers often pay child support for a child that they are never allowed to see or get to know because the mother chooses to exclude the father from the child’s life. Excluding a parent is not normally in the best interests of either parent or the child. Unless there is evidence that contact with the father would be detrimental to the child, the mother should allow some visitation. It is important that the father ask for visitation rights to ensure the best development of the minor child. A qualified Alabama family law attorney can advise you on your best options when dealing with paternity issues.
When a husband raises an allegation of infidelity by the wife during an Alabama divorce, the paternity of some or all the children may need to be disputed. In Alabama, children who are born to a married woman are legally presumed to be the children of the husband. It is important to note that only the husband can successfully challenge the paternity of a child born during the marriage. The mother cannot do so. In Alabama, if the husband wishes to continue in the role of father, he can do so even if the child is not the husband’s biological child. If the husband chooses to raise the issue of paternity, the court will order DNA testing. If the court determines that the husband is not the father, the child will not be included in any award of custody, visitation or child support that involves the husband. If the identity of the biological father is known, he can be made a party to the Alabama divorce. If the biological father is a party to the divorce, the court may award child support payable from him to the mother. If the biological father is not a party to the divorce, the mother will have to file a petition in family court to receive any court-ordered child support from the biological father. Even in divorces where the biological father is a party, an Alabama divorce judge may not order child support. The judge may choose to transfer that part of the case to family court if paternity by the husband has been disproven.
Contact The Burleson Firm
The Burleson Firm has helped families in Alabama with paternity issues for over twenty years. If you are a party to an Alabama paternity case, we can advise you on how to get the best outcome. Let The Burleson Firm schedule a no-obligation conference with a serious Alabama family law attorney to assist you with your paternity issues.
For a free phone consultation, call us at 1 (205) 795-2033.