Paternity

The Uniform Parentage Act State Statute governs paternity proceedings. A paternity proceeding may typically be commenced any time from after the child’s birth or at any time for the purpose of declaring the existence of the father and child relationship such as in custody, visitation and support matters. Parties may contest paternity by requesting the court order DNA testing to determine paternity within the time allotted by law for such contests under common law and case law.

Child Custody and Visitation

When paternity is disputed and there has been little to no prior contact with the child, the court is reluctant to order visitation until paternity is established by DNA testing in contested cases.

If both parties do not dispute paternity, the father may start visitation based on prior contact with the minor. If there has been little to no contact, the court will permit short visits until the relationship is established. Later, visitations may eventually increase to allow continuous contact with both parents.

As a general rule, however, the court will not settle a dispute over visitation by transferring custody when a parent had little contact with the minor child. Such modification may end up disrupting the child’s stable home environment. Instead, the court may choose to expand the visitation time allotted to the non-custodial parent.