Paternity is the legal acknowledgement of the parental relationship between a child and his or her father. Paternity of a child(ren) becomes an issue when any party of interest asks the court by filing a Petition to Establish Paternity requesting the Court make a determination of paternity. This means a lawsuit can be brought by a private party or by the state. A private action can be brought by the mother in order to gain support and set parenting time. A private action can also be brought by the father in order to gain support or set parenting time. Here are some general pieces of information regarding paternity in Tennessee:
- In Tennessee, absent an order of custody to the contrary, custody of a child born out of wedlock is with the mother.
- Our statute sets out that a man is rebuttably presumed to be the father of a child if:
(1) The man and the child’s mother are married or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within three hundred (300) days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce;
(2) Before the child’s birth, the man and the mother have attempted to marry each other in compliance with the law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared illegal, void and voidable;
(3) After the child’s birth, the man and the mother have married or attempted to marry each other in compliance with the law although such marriage is or could be declared illegal, void, or voidable; and:
(A) The man has acknowledged his paternity of the child in a writing filed under the putative father registry established by the department of children services
(B) The man has consented in writing to be named the child’s father on the birth certificate; or
(C) The man is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order;
(4) While the child is under the age of majority, the man receives the child into the man’s home and openly holds the child out as the man’s natural child; or
(5) Genetic tests have been administered, an exclusion has not occurred, and the test results show a statistical probability of parentage of ninety-five percent (95%) or greater.
- If you file an action to rebut the presumption that a man is the father, the standard of proof in an action to rebut paternity shall be by preponderance of the evidence.
- If nobody has filed any Petition to establish paternity, there is a statute of limitations that applies. An action to establish the parentage of a child may be instituted before or after the birth of the child and until three (3) years beyond the child’s age of majority.
In considering hiring an attorney to represent you in your Paternity matter, you must find the best attorney for your situation. Because the factors in the Paternity statute are very complicated, the outcome of your case will vary depending on your circumstances.