When a child is born out of wedlock and the parents decide to terminate their “partnership” relationship, they do not get divorced because they have never been married. There are still certain rights and responsibilities, however, that must be established. Because dad and mom were never married, a marital estate (assets and debts) was not created. So, in Paternity actions, the courts will not assist the parties in dividing up any joint assets or debts, or any dispute that may arise over those jointly owned assets and debts. A separate civil action will be required if the parties are unable to decide these matters on their own.
Conversely, when a child is born to their relationship, the custody and support of the child will have to be determined by the court, should the parties be unable to do so between themselves. Also, the father will have to be adjudicated by the Court that he is actually the father of the child/ren. Paternity can also be established through agency action/Office of Recovery Services or by voluntary declaration. Just because you may be on the birth certificate, or there is a positive DNA test performed, does not automatically grant a man “father status.” It’s unfortunate, but you have to go to court and have the court Order that you are the father, which is done through a Paternity Action, also called an action for Parentage.
When moms unilaterally cut-off parent-time, many dads are shocked and amazed to find that they have no enforceable rights to parent-time with their children without first going to court to establish those rights.
Children are more secure with dads in their lives; and dads generally are not happy without their children in their lives. But, when the parties cannot agree, a Paternity Action is necessary to determine and resolve all issues and disputes regarding children born when no legal marriage exists.