Fairfax Paternity Lawyer

When an unmarried couple separates, a father might worry that they will not be able to remain in their child’s life. Thankfully, if a father can establish paternity (i.e., that they are the biological parent of the child) , they can likely protect their right to spend time with their child. Establishing paternity gives the Father the legal right to split or share in parenting responsibilities with the other parent and  remain involved in the child’s life.

If you took a paternity test and need help exercising your rights, our family attorneys are here to help. A knowledgeable paternity lawyer could explain everything associated with this status, including the rights to seek custody and visitation.

Why is Establishing Legal Paternity Important?

According to state laws, if a couple is not married when a child is born, the man is not automatically considered the child’s legal parent. Instead, he must seek a formal determination of paternity before he can request custody or parenting time. This is a crucial step, because solidifying the father-child relationship could help the father build and maintain a long and loving relationship with his child.

Establishing paternity can also be beneficial for the child. The status provides them with the right to share in social security, disability, and veteran’s benefits, health and life insurance, or assets from their father’s estate. Determining paternity can be challenging in some cases, but it is worth the trouble and is best handled with the assistance of a skilled attorney in Fairfax.

How to Finalize Paternity

If two parents are not married when a child is born but agree that the man is the biological father, they can establish paternity by signing a formal acknowledgement. The parties can sign this form, under oath, before they leave the hospital with the child or at a later date, under the supervision of state authorities. Each person has sixty days to rescind their acknowledgment if either party wishes to do so.

When a husband and wife disagree about who is the rightful father, either of them can petition the court to establish paternity. To do this, a judge will usually order genetic testing. If a DNA test confirms a 98 percent or greater probability that the man is the father, a judge might issue an Order of Paternity that establishes the man’s rights.

A well-practiced lawyer in Fairfax could help a family request genetic testing, resolve disagreements, or establish paternity at birth.

Does Establishing Paternity Affect a Child’s Last Name?

When a married couple has a child, they can list themselves on the birth certificate and legally establish the husband as the child’s father. In some cases, the husband and wife have different last names. Under state law, the spouses can determine whether to give the child the husband or wife’s last name, a hyphenated name combining parents’ names, or a different last name entirely.

If a father later wants to change the child’s last name after his paternity has been established, he must petition the court. If the mother does not consent, a judge can determine whether the name change is in the child’s best interests. A father who wants to change his child’s last name at any point could benefit from seeking a skilled paternity attorney in Fairfax.

What is the Virginia Birth Father Registry?

Virginia Code § 63.2-1249 established the Virginia Birth Father Registry (VBFR), a confidential database designed to protect an unmarried man’s right to his children. If a man voluntarily registers with the VBFR within ten days after a child’s birth, the Department of Social Services will notify him if his child is placed in foster care or for adoption. An experienced representative could help someone move to establish paternity if they receive a notice from this registry.

Talk to a Fairfax Paternity Attorney Today to Get Started

Generally speaking, establishing paternity is a relatively simple process. However, it can become complicated when two spouses are not on the same page about important decisions.

If you disagree with your spouse about custody or childhood after you already established that you are the rightful father, a Fairfax paternity lawyer could be the ally you need. Reach out today to schedule an initial appointment.