Establishing Paternity in Virginia: What You Need to Know

Most people don't worry about establishing paternity until something like divorce or the end of a relationship happens. Alternatively, parents don't think about what might happen if they pass away. Without paternity being established, a child can't receive any inheritance benefits from his or her father.

Paternity is what creates a legal relationship between a father and a child. In the case of married heterosexual couples, Virginia law considers the product of that marriage automatically to be the child of the mother and the father. Both of them will be listed on the birth certificate.

For couples that are unmarried, the mother and father must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This form is usually filled out at the hospital, and hospital staff will file the form for you. It can also be obtained from the Office of Vital Records and various other local departments that concern health and social services. Once the form is filed, the father is legally the father of the child

If the mother refuses to sign the form with the father, or the father refuses to sign the form to acknowledge paternity, involuntary establishment of paternity can be done through court. A court will issue an order of paternity after someone concerned has filed a Petition to Establish Paternity in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in the county where the child lives.

If either parent denies or is uncertain of paternity, they can request the court to order genetic testing. DNA samples will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, which can establish paternity with 99.9% certainty. If the test confirms a biological link, the court will issue an order of paternity, which establishes the father as the legal father.

Talk to one of our skilled Glen Allen family law attorneys today if you need help establishing paternity. DeFazio Bal is dedicated to helping families through some of the most complex and stressful cases. We have more than 50 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (804) 250-3729 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation with us today!

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