Paternity and Legitimation

Paternity vs. Legitimation In North Carolina

Declaring your child’s paternity, or formally recognizing their legal legitimation can be a complex matter, therefore it is vitally important for you to choose an attorney who not only understands these matters, but provides caring, knowledgeable, and experienced support. Here at Greenwood Law, we understand that your rights to your child and your child’s legal rights to support are of the utmost importance and require skilled and compassionate representation. Our attorneys will take the time to listen to your situation, clearly explain your legal options, and develop a plan of action that will keep you and your child’s best interests at heart. We are prepared to provide zealous representation in every situation that may arise.

How Can I Establish My Child’s Paternity?

Generally, in North Carolina paternity issues result from a child born outside of marriage or for a father not present on the birth certificate. Paternity can be established for a child at any time before the child’s eighteenth birthday which ultimately can affect the child’s “legitimation.”

Establishing paternity requires proof based on clear and convincing evidence such as an affidavit of parentage signed by the father and mother, or a blood or genetic test with a parentage probability score of 97% or higher. If you are concerned about invalidating paternity, this can sometimes be set aside based on fraud, duress, mutual mistake, or excusable neglect, but these proceedings can be emotional and complex.

Once a court establishes paternity for a child born outside of marriage, the established parent immediately has all the rights, duties and obligations regarding support and custody that one might have of any biological child. A parent can seek custody of a child before paternity is established, but if there is doubt about a child’s paternity, it may be best to seek answers to that question first.

What is “Legitimation” and How Does This Affect My Child’s Rights?

“Legitimation” is a legal status for a child which provides a parent with all the legal parental privileges and obligations as if the child was born within a marriage. This status includes the child’s right to inheritance, distribution, support, etc.

Legitimacy is generally presumed if the child is born within a marriage, regardless of the time between the date of marriage and the child’s date of birth; however, there are avenues to rebut the legitimacy of a child born within a marriage. Legitimation must be supported by establishing your child’s paternity.

The father of any child born outside of marriage, whether living in North Carolina or not, can apply for his child to be declared legitimate by verified written petition and filed with the clerk of superior court of the county where his child lives, or by simply later marrying the child’s mother. After legitimation, a child’s name can either stay the same or change if both parents agree on a name change, or the court deems it necessary. Finally, in some circumstances, legitimation can occur after the death of a parent but poses its own unique legal issues.

Contact Us Today

We at Greenwood Law understand that your child’s legal rights and your legal rights to your child can have a monumental and emotional impact on your life. As experienced and compassionate attorneys we wish to help you through this process. To discuss your case further with the attorneys at Greenwood Law, contact our Winston-Salem office by calling (336) 794-6138, or filling out our online contact form.

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