Paternity And Legitimation Cases

In this modern world, it is not uncommon for people to have children together outside of marriage. When they do, it is still important for both parents to have an active role in the lives of their children. Many times unmarried parents find it difficult to accomplish this goal without the assistance of the court system. Legal proceeding for legitimation and for paternity can help parents to define their legal rights and responsibilities for nonmarital children.

Many people confuse the two terms, but paternity and legitimation are two different legal concepts:

  • Legitimation:
    • An unmarried father initiates a legitimation proceeding so that he and his nonmarital child can enjoy the same legal relationship as that which exists between a father and a child whose parents were married to each other at the time of the child's birth.
    • If the legitimation request is granted, thereafter, the father is entitled to seek custody and visitation of his nonmarital child, he is obligated to provide financial support for the child, and his name will be added to the child's birth certificate if it does not already appear on it.
    • Once granted, legitimation establishes the child as an heir of the father in the event that the father dies intestate and, the father as the heir of the child if the child predeceases the father and dies intestate.
  • Paternity:
    • When a biological father who is not married to a child's mother refuses to sign or is unavailable to sign an Affidavit of Paternity soon after the nonmarital child's birth, it may become necessary for the mother to file a paternity action with the court.
    • The primary purpose of a paternity proceeding is to establish the identity of a nonmarital child's father so that he can be made to provide financial support for the child's benefit. Paternity can determined by a DNA test.
    • Once paternity is established, the father's name will be added to the nonmarital child's birth certificate. Once paternity is established, a father of a nonmarital child has standing to sue for custody and/or visitation with the child and he will have a duty to provide child support for the benefit of the child.
    • However, paternity does not establish full legal rights between the father and his nonmarital child. Full legal rights can only be established in two ways:
      • (1) the father can marry the child's mother
      • (2) the father file a legitimation petition

Attorney Martha New Milam is a board-certified family law specialist — one of only five in practice in Durham, North Carolina. With over 30 years of family law experience, Ms. Milam has the knowledge and skill needed to guide you through the paternity and/or legitimation proceedings in North Carolina.

Schedule A Consultation Today

If you have questions about how to legitimize a child, talking to a lawyer is the best way to get answers. Contact Ms. Milam at Milam & Idol PLLC by calling 919-805-3678 or by completing the online form to schedule an initial consultation about your family law needs.