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Family Lawyers Protecting You & Your Children

When parties who are unmarried have a child, and disputes arise over the establishment of paternity, custody, visitation and support, the type of suit filed depends on the status of the father.

There are four distinct categories of fathers, which include:

  • Presumed
  • Acknowledged
  • Adjudicated
  • Alleged
Presumed Father

A presumed father is one who is legally presumed under the law to be a child’s father, although that presumption can often be legally challenged and/or rebutted in a court of law. For instance, if a married couple has a child together, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. However, he can challenge that presumption under certain conditions, and new legislation has made it even easier to do so. When there is a presumed father, any suit involving the child would be called a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship.

Acknowledged Father

An Acknowledged Father is one who signed a special document called an “Acknowledgment of Paternity”, which is then filed with the State Paternity Registry, and which creates a legal relationship to the child. An Acknowledgment of Paternity, at least until recently, was generally harder to challenge than a presumption of paternity. However, that acknowledgment can and often is challenged under certain circumstances, and new legislation makes it even easier to challenge paternity of acknowledged fathers. Suits involving a child who has an acknowledged father are filed as Suits Affecting the Parent Child Relationship.

Adjudicated Father

An Adjudicated Father is one who has been legally determined by a court to be a child’s father. This is usually the result of a so-called “paternity suit,” but would also apply to divorce cases where a child was born during the marriage. Until recently, it was virtually impossible to challenge the paternity of an “adjudicated father, due to legal principals designed to protect the “finality of judgments. However, even an adjudicated father’s paternity can now be challenged under new legislation if certain conditions are met.

Alleged Father

An alleged father is exactly that–a man alleged to be the father but who is not a presumed father, does not appear on the child’s birth certificate, and has not signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity. The person alleging paternity (the one filing the lawsuit) has the burden of proving the paternity of the alleged father, which is usually accomplished through genetic testing (DNA testing). A lawsuit to establish paternity, custody, visitation and support of a child who has only an alleged father is called a Suit to Determine Parentage.

For Advice & Information, Call 401-300-4055

There is no difference between a child born to a married a couple and a child born to people who are not married. The old concept of “illegitimacy” is a relic of the past, and there are no longer any “penalties” associated with being born “out of wedlock.”


Contact our Rhode Island divorce attorneys to learn how we can help you. Schedule your free consultation by calling 401-300-4055.

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