Splitting up is hard on every member of a family. It can be especially hard on a loving dad who goes from tucking his child in every night to seeing them just a few hours a week.
In fact, it might seem like you never see your kids anymore. Your ex wife or girlfriend might say that the kids need time to feel comfortable with the situation. She might say that because you were late with a child support payment, you’re not entitled to see them as often. Or, she might even say that the kids aren’t yours.
The Law & Your Paternity Rights
Legally recognized paternity affects all of the following matters:
- Which health insurance policy covers the children.
- Who must pay child support.
- Who can inherit property.
- Who is entitled to social security benefits.
Establishing paternity also gives the father important rights. Once the court determines that a man is the child’s legal father, he can apply to family court for custody or physical placement of the child and submit a parenting plan in order to help the court make custody decisions. The court may also order him to make child support payments.
Until a court has said otherwise, a father has the right to see his children even if the child’s legal mother wants nothing to do with him. Even if you and the child’s mother were not married, and the court gave her sole custody, you can still petition the court for shared custody of your children if you are the legal father.
Three Ways to Establish Paternity in Wisconsin:
- The father fills out a Voluntary Paternal Acknowledgement form after the birth of the child, at which point he is added to the birth certificate.
- The court rules on paternity. If the man fails to show up for the court date, the court may still enter a default judgment about paternity in his absence and order him to pay child support.
- If the parents marry after the child is born, both parents must sign and have notarized an “Acknowledgment of Marital Child” form in order to get the father’s name added to the birth certificate.
The court uses genetic tests when parents do not know or agree on paternity. Although a man has the right to object to the results of these tests in court, if the tests show a probability of 99 percent or more, the man is presumed the child in question’s father.
You can only legally establish custody before a child turns 19 years of age.
Are You a Concerned Father Who Wants to Know More?
At GCW, we believe it is a child’s best interest to have close and loving relationships with both parents. Contact one of our experienced and compassionate family lawyers now to schedule a free consultation, and talk about your Wisconsin paternity rights.