In Alabama, the simplest way to establish paternity is voluntarily, with both the mother and father signing a form that acknowledges paternity by identifying the child’s legal father. Once parents have filled out this form and it has been properly filed, the father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate.
In cases where the parents are married at the time the child is born, paternity is usually presumed and does not require any outside testing or legal processes.
In Alabama when a child is born within 300 days of a divorce, death, annulment, or declaration of invalidity, the former spouse is also presumed to be the child’s father for purposes of paternity. There are also other presumptions of paternity, including legitimation of a child.
In cases where the parents are not married, there may be many reasons why parents question the paternity of the child.
In such cases, both parents can consent to an administrative procedure whereby a DNA test is ordered by the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Once the DNA testing is complete, and if paternity is established by the testing process, an Alabama court will still need to make an official order establishing paternity of the child in question. In order to have them do that, you must file a Petition to Establish Paternity.
In cases where the father denies paternity of the child and the father or mother do not wish to cooperate with genetic testing as ordered by the Alabama Department of Human Resources, the mother and the alleged father will have to begin a court process to determine paternity.
This process can also be used if a man wants to establish paternity of a child but a child’s mother has denied that the man is the biological father. Ultimately, the parties will probably still need to submit to some form of genetic testing.
A Petition to Establish Paternity can be filed by either party.
Genetic testing is the easiest way is to rebut paternity. If DNA evidence proves that a man is not the father of a child, usually regardless of why the man was listed as the father in the first place, this offers almost irrefutable proof to the court that the responsibilities that come with paternity do not belong to the man in question.
A presumed father may bring an action to disprove paternity at any time. If the presumed father persists in his status as the legal father of a child, neither the mother nor any other individual may maintain an action to disprove paternity, regardless of DNA testing showing otherwise.
It is important to understand that in Alabama, once paternity has been established and child support is ordered to be paid to one parent, the same constitutes a custody determination.
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