January 10, 2014. Before a court can order support or custody of a child, paternity must be established. There are several ways paternity can be established under the law. The law presumes that a child born or conceived during a marriage is the child of the mother’s husband. The husband’s name must be entered on the birth certificate. If the biological father is not the husband, a court proceeding would have to take place to remove the husband’s name from the birth certificate before the biological father’s name could be listed. There is a process during divorce in which the parents can file an affidavit showing the husband is not the father and allows for the husband’s name to be removed from the birth certificate.
If a couple is unmarried, both can sign an affidavit of paternity from the Iowa Department of Public Health. Administratively, the Child Support Recovery Unit can submit an order to a court to establish paternity and support.
The last way to establish paternity is to file a Petition with the court. Within the Petition, the court can address custody, visitation support, reimbursement of medical costs related to the birth, name change, and tax exemption the same way these issues are addressed in child custody cases related to married individuals.
If either party requests DNA testing, the court will order testing take place. See next week’s blog on the DNA testing process to prove or disprove paternity.