“Paternity” is the legal term used when referring to the man who is the father of a child. When paternity is established, a father has rights and responsibilities towards the child. If paternity is not established, a man may not have visitation rights, have a voice in decisions for the child, or have the ability to remain informed about the child’s medical issues.

In Iowa, there are three ways to establish paternity:

  1. Marriage. When a child is born during a marriage, the husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child. If, however, the husband is not the biological father of the child, then paternity should be disestablished.
  2. Genetic testing. Testing can be completed to determine whether a man is the father of a child. If the genetic testing shows the man is the father of the child, the court can establish paternity.
  3. Affidavit or agreement. If the man signed a paternity affidavit, then paternity has been established. If a paternity affidavit was not signed, but the parties agree that the man is the father of the child, an agreement can be signed to establish paternity.

Remember that just because a man’s name appears on a child’s birth certificate, that does not establish paternity. At the time of birth, the mother may claim any man is the father. A genetic test may be necessary to definitively know the truth. The process of establishing paternity can be stressful.

The child’s legal father should be the child’s biological father. If paternity has been established between a child and a man who is not the biological father, then paternity needs to be disestablished. The process to disestablish includes a genetic test to disprove paternity. If paternity is not timely disestablished, then that man could likely have financial responsibility for a child that is not his.

For help with paternity issues, call Sailer Law today at (319) 260-2096 to set-up your initial consultation.


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