Legitimation / Paternity

Legitimation refers to the process by which a biological father seeks to establish legal rights to a child who was born out of wedlock. Even if a father’s name is placed on a birth certificate, the father may have no legal right to visit with his child. Thus, Ms. McCarthy routinely represents father who wish to establish their legal rights so that they become active, involved parents. The process involves filing a petition with the court at which time the court may order DNA testing. A mother can also attest to the child being the biological offspring of the father which often makes the process of legitimation easier and less time consuming. Once the court has ordered the child legitimated, the father can request from the court the same visitation and custodial rights as any divorcing father. In addition, the court will likely order the payment of child support.

Conversely, a mother may seek to establish the paternity of her child. A court will order a DNA test and, if confirmed, the court can order the payment of child support. Paternity is often established through the Department of Children and Family Services where an application for public assistance has been received.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.      Can the court award back payments for child support?

No, the establishment of paternity will not result in a retroactive award of child support.

2.      Can I terminate a father’s right to custody of a child?

In a termination of parental rights case, the party is required to give proper notice to the biological father and then that father has 30 days to file a petition to legitimate the child in court. If the biological father fails to respond or to file a petition, then the court may grant a termination.