Coeur d’Alene Paternity Attorney
Considerations of Paternity in the State of Idaho
According to NCBI, about 300,000 paternity tests are performed in the U.S. each year. About 72 percent of those tests indicate paternity inclusion—that is, in nearly three-quarters of all paternity tests the correct father is identified by the mother. If you have an issue regarding paternity, it can be extremely helpful to speak to a Coeur d’Alene paternity attorney before you proceed. With an office located in Coeur d’Alene, our firm serves all of Kootenai County.
Fathers have two different “statuses” regarding their children; legal parentage and biological parentage. In the state of Idaho, if you are legally married, then when you have a child, he or she is automatically awarded both legal and biological status. Unless the biological parentage is disputed by one of the parents, there is no question regarding the issue of paternity. Unmarried couples do not have the same recognition, requiring paternity to be validated in court.
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Why Choose a Coeur d’Alene Paternity Attorney from Crouse Erickson?
Whether you are a mother, attempting to prove paternity in order to secure financial assistance for your child, or a father, attempting to prove (or disprove) paternity, you need a solid, highly experienced Idaho family law attorney. At Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys, we have 30 years of experience with paternity and all other family law issues. At our law firm, we only practice family law. Today, many larger firms often practice more than one type of law. You might see a firm that practices criminal law, family law, and immigration law—or something similar.
Our firm concentrates solely on family law, so we know virtually every in and out regarding family law issues. We know the laws, we know case law on each issue, and we know how important these family law issues are to our clients. We are a highly client-centric law firm which gives our clients a significant advantage. Not only do we have the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills, we really care about you, your issue, your family, and your future. When you add all this with our intense case preparation, there is really no choice when it comes to choosing a Coeur d’Alene family law attorney.
Why Should You Establish Paternity?
If a man fathers a child with a person he is not married to, he is not recognized, under the law, as the legal father until it’s validated in court. You may wonder why it matters whether the court recognizes an individual as a father. Since only legally recognized fathers are subject to child support laws or are entitled to spend time with their child, it’s an important distinction. As the mother of a child, suppose you and your significant other have been living together for years, and you have a child together.
In your mind, there is no question of your child’s parentage, and right now the father is contributing both financially, and parentally. Imagine, however, that you and the father split up. The split is contentious, and he goes on to marry someone else and have more children. Perhaps he stops seeing your child, then stops offering any financial support, because, after all, the law has not named him as the child’s father. While you never want to think of the unthinkable, such a scenario can and does happen.
So, for your child’s sake, it is always better to have paternity unequivocally determined. Once paternity is established, there will be legal documentation identifying both parents, the names of both parents will be on the child’s birth certificate, and the child will have access to the health histories of both mother and father. The child will be eligible for health and life insurance coverage from either parent, has the right to inherit from either parent, and has the right to Social Security and Veteran’s benefits if available.
How Do You File a Paternity Action in Court?
In the state of Idaho, a paternity suit can be initiated by the biological mother, the child, the child’s legal guardian, the child’s next of kin, the Department of Health and Welfare, or any other person standing in a paternal relationship to the child (the person believed to be the biological father). The paternity suit cannot be filed until the child has been born, and it cannot be filed after the child has reached the age of majority (18). A paternity suit cannot be filed following completed adoption actions or a termination of parental rights.
To begin a paternity suit, a complaint is filed against the biological mother or the putative (assumed) father. The paternity suit is filed either in the county where the biological mother resides or in the county where the putative father resides. When the child is involved in adoption proceedings or the parental rights are being terminated, the paternity process is more complex. If the putative father is filing a paternity action, he must file a notice of intent to file a paternity action with the Vital Statistics Unit of the Department of Health and Welfare.
Should the putative father fail to fill out this form, a subsequent attempt to file a suit against the mother of the child will be dismissed. Further, if the mother is placing the child for adoption, any claims that might have been asserted by the putative father will not be allowed if the notice of intent to file a paternity action is not properly and in a timely manner filed with DHW. In cases that do not involve adoption or a termination of parental rights, the form is not required, but this form is the best protection against an unwanted termination of parental rights or adoption.
If both biological parents agree on paternity, a Verified Acknowledgement of Paternity may be filed with Vital statistics. Once completed, the putative father is legally the biological father of the child. Once this document has been filed with Vital Statistics, there is only a 60-day window in which the document may be rescinded. After that, it can be challenged in court, but only on grounds of mistake of fact, duress, or fraud.
Once a paternity action is instigated, the court will order DNA testing. The person requesting the DNA must pay the costs of the tests but can recover those costs if he or she prevails. A mother that instigates a paternity action must agree to a DNA test, or the case will be dismissed. If the putative father refuses a DNA test, he could be sanctioned; the DNA test must establish the putative father as the biological father by a standard of 98 percent or better.
Can a Man Challenge Paternity When the Mother Was Married to Someone Else at the Time the Baby Was Born?
Although when a couple is married at the time of the baby’s birth, it is presumed the husband is the biological father, this presumption can be challenged. If the mother was married at the time of the birth, she and her husband may testify that the putative father did not have “access” to the mother. Other than their sworn testimony, they are not required to produce additional evidence. The putative father is not allowed to testify as to his “access,” unless he has corroborating evidence.
For instance, if the putative father had saved texts from the mother agreeing to meet him at a motel, as well as a copy of the motel register with both their names on it, then he would have fairly solid evidence to claim access. Evidence of sexual intercourse between the parties around the time of conception is a good starting point. That being said, the presumption that the husband is the biological father can only be overcome by genetic evidence (DNA) or an affidavit of non-paternity from the husband and mother. When all these are in place, then a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity by the putative father completes the paternity issue.
How Does an Attorney Help Establish Paternity?
The road to establishing paternity can be fraught with difficulties and complications unless an experienced family law attorney is at the helm, ensuring the process goes smoothly. Establishing paternity can be a sensitive matter, particularly when it is unknown or contested.
How a Coeur d’Alene Paternity Attorney from Crouse Erickson Can Help You
If you are dealing with a paternity issue, the Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys are ready to help you right now. We are well aware that family law issues can result in significant stress and anxiety for those involved. Family law issues also come with countless challenges and complexities. We are highly experienced in navigating these challenges and will fight aggressively for your rights and your future. With an office located in Coeur d’Alene, our firm serves all of Kootenai County.
At Crouse Erickson we are always upfront about our fee policies, striving to provide every client with the best possible outcome at the most reasonable rate. Because we have been family law attorneys for a combined 30 years, we never have to re-invent the wheel—we simply provide a superior service in a client-centric manner, time after time. Contact Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys today.