Paternity establishes a legal relationship between a father and his or her child. It can be decided either voluntarily or by the court. Once paternity is determined, the father of the child then gains custody rights and is required to pay child support. The child’s mother may be required to share visitation time with the father.
The child may inherit from his or her father and may have access to information about family history.
It can be voluntarily established when the child is born to a married couple, when the child is born to an unmarried couple who never marry but sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgment form, when the father welcomes the child into his or her home and holds the child out as his own, or in other circumstances.
Paternity can also be established through the court when the child’s mother or the state brings an action for paternity against the presumed father. The presumed father is then required to appear in court and may need to submit to genetic testing.
In Mississippi, if the test comes back with 98% certainty the court will presume that he is the father. However, this presumption can be overcome if there is strong evidence that indicates he is not the father.
In addition to the financial benefits of establishing paternity, it also allows the child to build a relationship with the father. If individuals or couples need assistance with determining paternity or other family law matters, there is assistance available.