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DIVORCE & FAMILY LAW
Paternity Rights in Virginia
Establishing Paternity in Virginia
Establishing Paternity means establishing the legal father of a child. By establishing paternity, the father’s name is officially placed on the child’s birth certificate and he is legally responsible for the child.
In Virginia, if a child is born of a marriage, then paternity is automatically established.
If children are born out of wedlock, paternity can also be established voluntarily by both the parents signing under oath the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) under oath. The easiest way to do it is to sign the AOP right after the child’s birth before mother and child are discharged from the hospital.
Paternity can also be established by petitioning the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and performing a court ordered genetic test. This usually happens when there is a dispute regarding paternity and the Court is asked to resolve the issue. The mother, the father, the child or the state if the child is receiving public assistance or benefits can petition the court to establish paternity in the county where the child resides.
If after receiving appropriate notice of the court proceeding, the father doesn’t appear in court, the judge can enter a “default order” in his absence, declaring him the legal father. If the father appears in court and the mother and father both agree that the father is the biological father, the judge will immediately issue an order of paternity. If the father challenges paternity, then the Court usually issues and order for the father and child to submit to genetic testing to determine paternity.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity:
Establishing paternity means that the child will be not only be able to enjoy a relationship with both his parents, but will also be able to inherit from his father. Once paternity is established, fathers are legally responsible for the children just as much as the mother and so have to contribute towards supporting the children as well.
The biggest benefit to fathers is that once paternity is established, they have a legal right to the child can then petition the court for custody and visitation with their child.
At Khanna Law we successfully help our clients navigate the complicated paternity and custody process on a regular basis. We pride ourselves in guiding you, protecting your rights and providing dedicated, intelligent and reliable representation.