There are many occasions where the paternity of the child must be established by the Court. This might arise because one or the other parties is denying paternity. More often, paternity is not contested, but must be established in order to establish parental rights for the father. In addition, child support cannot be ordered until paternity has been established.
Petition to Establish Paternity
In contested paternity, one of the parties will file a Petitioner to Establish Paternity. Either of the parents may file this. The mother will often file it. However, the father often files.
It is often assumed the alleged father only files to dispute paternity. However, there are cases where the father is attempting to prove paternity. This will come up in situations where the father has been denied contact with the child.
The Petition to Establish Paternity is aslo often filed by Child Support Enforcement in order to initiate a child support case. This occurs most often when the mother and child are receiving public assistance.
DNA Test Required in Case of Dispute
In order to establish paternity, a DNA test will be conducted on the father and child. If the DNA test establishes paternity, then the father is adjudicated the natural father of the child by the Court. From that point forward the father will have all the duties and responsibilities of the father. In addition, the father will then have parental rights which means the right to time-sharing and/or legal custody of the child.
Petition Filed Even in Absence of Dispute in Child Custody Cases
More often, the issue of paternity is not contested. However, the Petition to Establish Paternity must still be filed. Typically, the Petition will be filed as a Petition to Establish Paternity, Custody and Support so that all of the paternal rights and duties are addressed during the same process.
Many times the entire process is uncontested and can be achieved without ever appearing in Court. However, as with any custody action, the process can become contested. Contested custody brings with it all the implications set forth in the section on Contested Custody on these pages.
Child Support Including Back Support Ordered Once Paternity is Established
Once paternity is established, whether custody is contested or not, child support will be ordered. This is typically a simple calculation. The State of New Mexico has set forth child support guidelines that are followed strictly in all but a few situations.
The court may and typically does order back support as well. Back support may be ordered all the way back to the birth of the child. In addition, the court can order birthing expenses be repaid in whole or in part by the father.
To get a idea of the child support in your case, follow the instructions in completing the online Child Support Worksheet available through www.nmcourts.com. Go to the New Mexico Family Court Forms area to find the Worksheet.