If you are an unmarried man and your female partner has told you that you are the father of her child, but you are having doubts about it, there are steps that you can take to challenge paternity. If you are married and your wife has given birth to a child that you are certain is not yours, there is another process for de-establishing paternity.
In Maryland, when a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the father under the law. Your name will be automatically put on the birth certificate when the child is born, so if you are certain or have suspicions that you are not the child’s father, and you do not want to accept responsibility for the child, the sooner you challenge paternity, the less legally complicated the process becomes.
If you are an unmarried man, do not sign the birth certificate or any other document that acknowledges your paternity. If you have already signed, you have 60 days to rescind it.
DNA testing and paternity
The definitive way of determining paternity is through a DNA test, which the court may order if paternity is being challenged. DNA testing, while not 100% foolproof, is often an accepted and admissible form of evidence for the courts, and the tests are inexpensive and easy to administer. All you must do is take a swab from inside of your cheek and inside of the child’s cheek. You send the two swabs off to be tested and you will get the results in the mail.
Once you get the results of the DNA test you have a few options:
If the test shows that you are not the father, you can use the testing documentation to show the court that you are not the child’s father and you will not be obligated to pay child support for the child for the next 18 years (or longer). The court can then pursue the child’s father and compel him to fulfill his obligation to pay child support. If the actual father is interested, he can also pursue a parenting time arrangement with the child’s mother.
If you are indeed the father, you will then have to assert your paternity and then petition the court for a parenting time arrangement between you and the child’s mother. By asserting your paternity, you will then be obligated to paying child support to the child’s mother for your portion of the financial support for the child.
An experienced Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates will help you determine how much child support you might be expected to pay, and we can support you in de-establishing paternity if you are married to the child’s mother.
If you are considering challenging a paternity action because you are not the father of the child, our experienced family law attorneys can help. You are welcome to contact Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A. at 410.921.2422 or contact us to schedule a consultation with a skilled Annapolis family law attorney. We have the skills, experience and resources you want on your side and we will protect your rights when they are being infringed upon.