Paternity: Protecting A Parent’s Rights In Las Vegas
When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the natural father under Nevada law. This is also true in situations in which the parents were not married, but they cohabited for at least six months prior to and including what would have been the time of conception of the child. If neither of these circumstances exists, a biological father could be denied visitation and custody rights unless steps are taken to establish paternity.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity is important to ensure that the rights and obligations of both parents toward each other and toward the child are preserved. These include the following:
- The right of a father to petition a court for visitation or custody
- The obligation of both parents to financially support the child
- The child’s right to benefits, such as Social Security, health insurance and military benefits
- The right of the child to share in the estate of both parents through inheritance
- The child’s right to access family medical history from both parents
Methods of Establishing Paternity under Nevada Law
There is a presumption that children born to a married couple are the legitimate offspring of both spouses. Either spouse can petition a Las Vegas judge for an order that someone other than the husband is the child’s father. The presumption is also overcome if the mother of the child and someone other than her husband sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
If a child’s parents are not married to each other at the conception or birth of a child, paternity can be established by the signing of a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Once it is signed by both parents and witnessed, the acknowledgement must be filed with the Nevada Office of Vital Records.
When unmarried parents disagree on the identity of a child’s biological father, a petition may be filed asking a judge to conduct a hearing and issue an order settling the dispute. If the child is a recipient of public assistance, the state, through the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, may file the petition seeking a judicial declaration of paternity.
Genetic Testing to Prove Paternity
A test of cells taken from the mother, child and putative father can be submitted for genetic testing. By comparing the characteristics of the DNA of each of the individuals from whom samples were collected, a report can be generated showing the probability of the putative father being the child’s biological father. The tests can be as high was 99.9 percent accurate in determining that someone is the father of a child.
Genetic testing is usually ordered by the judge hearing a paternity case. The law allows a judge to order a genetic test of parties regardless of their age, so a minor who is alleged to be the biological father of a can be ordered to submit to testing even without the consent of his parents.
Once paternity has been established, whether it is accomplished by voluntary acknowledgement or by court order, the name of the father is entered on the child’s birth certificate. If the child’s parents were married at the time of birth, the husband’s name automatically is noted on the birth certificate as the father.
A Las Vegas family law attorney can help
The rights and obligations associated with paternity are not to be taken lightly. A Las Vegas family law attorney might can offer legal advice and assistance.