When the custody, support, visitation or relationship of a child is in question, but the parents were never married; it is a Paternity Action that is filed in order to address these concerns. If parents are married when a child is born, there is usually no question about parentage. The law assumes that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother, so paternity is automatically established in those cases.
Paternity actions are filed for a variety of reasons. It may be commenced by an alleged father seeking custody or visitation, a mother seeking child support, a child seeking to establish a parental relationship or the state seeking reimbursement for public assistance.
Once a person is established as the father or mother of a child, he or she will have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent:
He or she will be able to request custody and visitation orders from the court so that he or she can legally visit with his or her child.
He or she also will be responsible for paying child support and will have to pay half of the uninsured health-care costs for the children and half of the child-care costs that result from the custodial parent getting or having a job or going to school.
If a person is established as a legal parent of a child, that person MUST financially support the child. It is a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her child. A legal parent also has the right to get custody or visitation rights related to the child.