To the Mother
- Share parental responsibilities with the father
- Share the costs of raising their child
- Seek child support payments
- Share custody with the father
- Allow for parenting time
To the Father
- Gain legal rights to their child
- Able to request custody or parenting time
- Form a bond or cordial relationship with the child
- Show how much they care for their child
- Participate in their child's life
Establishing Paternity in Tennessee
In the state of Tennessee, paternity can be established either "voluntarily" or "involuntarily."
Paternity can be established voluntarily when both parents agree that the father is the biological father. Both parents will be required to sign a document referred to as "Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity" to voluntarily establish paternity in Tennessee. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § § 68-3-203(g):
"If a form approved acknowledging the paternity of a child is signed by both parents of the child and is submitted to the office of vital records at any time after the original certificate is filed and prior to the child's nineteenth birthday, the legal surname of the father may be entered on the certificate as that of the child, and the father's name and other personal information may be shown on the certificate of birth in the manner prescribed by regulation."
In Tennessee, paternity may also be established involuntarily when the mother or state files a paternity lawsuit against the possible father. This will be done through a court proceeding where the court issues an "order of parentage." Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § § 36-2-305(a):
"The court may enter an order of parentage upon the agreement of the mother and father unless the court on its own motion orders genetic testing. In any such agreement, the mother and father must affirmatively acknowledge their parentage of the child."
When Disputes Occur
A petition in order to establish paternity may be brought until the child is 21 years old. The following people may file a petition to establish parentage:
- Tennessee Department of Human Services
DNA testing may be ordered by the Tennessee court if either parent denies or is unsure of paternity. The inside of the father, mother, and child's cheeks will be swabbed and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The result of the DNA testing will be used to determine the biological father or issue an order of parentage by the court.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Paternity dispute cases in Tennessee can be complicated. Consulting with an experienced Tennessee child custody attorney is crucial to receiving the comprehensive guidance you need throughout the process.
At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I am committed to providing outstanding legal services and strong representation in matters of divorce, paternity, and child custody. As an experienced Tennessee family law attorney, I can advise and guide you through the decision-making process of establishing paternity. I will work with all parties involved to help negotiate a fair parenting agreement, including child support, custody, and parenting time. If necessary, I can also help you file a paternity action with the Tennessee court.