Paternity fraud and dispute issues are very common in the United States. According to the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), of all the possible fathers who have a reason to take a paternity test, nearly 30% are not the biological father. Establishing paternity is important to gain legal rights to your child or to share in parenting responsibilities.

If you live in Tennessee, and you are trying to establish paternity, it is crucial that you consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney for proper guidance. I can provide you with the experienced legal counsel and advocacy you need. As your attorney, I will fight passionately for your best interest and your family's well-being.

The Law Offices of Fisher Wise is proud to serve clients throughout Chattanooga, Red Bank, Hamilton County, Bradley County, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, Marion County, Sequatchie County, Rhea County, and Bledsoe County, Tennessee.

Why Paternity is Important

Paternity means more than just having the father's name on a child's birth certificate. Establishing paternity is the legal process used to determine a child's biological father, as well as the father's rights and obligations to the child. It is important to establish paternity for the following reasons:

To the Child

  • Receive financial support from the father

  • Establish a relationship with both parents

  • Receive shelter and aid from the father

  • Learn about family history

  • Access personal information such as medical history and healthy risks

  • Access medical insurance and other benefits

  • Gain the right to inherit the father's property

  • Gain the right to sue for harm or death of the father



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."

Voluntary Paternity

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."

Involuntary Paternity

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:

  • Child

  • Mother

  • Father

  • 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.


If you are trying to establish paternity or determine your child's biological father, call the Law Offices of Fisher Wise. I have the experience and resources to help you successfully navigate the process. I’m dedicated to helping to protect the rights of you and your family. Based in Chattanooga, I proudly serve clients throughout Red Bank, Hamilton County, Bradley County, East Ridge, and Bledsoe County, Tennessee. Contact me today for a free consultation.