The importance of a child having a relationship with both parents is beyond dispute. Not only do children look to their parents for financial and emotional support, but children may be entitled to an inheritance or other benefits based on the status of their parents. Establishing paternity can also be important to mothers who are seeking an order for child support to assist with raising a child or fathers who wish to obtain child custody or visitation rights. In Rhode Island family court, paternity can be established in one of several different ways. If you have questions that relate to paternity, reach out to a Rhode Island family law attorney.
Establishing Paternity by Agreement
Perhaps the most straightforward way to establish paternity in Rhode Island is through an agreement by the parties. If a man is present at the birth of a child, he can be listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father. If a father is not present at birth, or only later agrees to be named as the father of a child, the parties can name a man as the father of a child at the Office of Child Support Services.
Establishing Paternity by DNA Test
If the parties do not agree on the issue of paternity, the court may order a DNA paternity test. Under Rhode Island General Laws section 15-8-11, a court can order a paternity test if paternity is disputed. If the test returns a result indicating that a man is at least 97% likely to be the father, the results will create an irrebuttable presumption of paternity presuming the moving party can establish that the child’s mother and putative father had sexual intercourse during the period when the child was conceived.