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How to Establish Paternity in Wisconsin

by | Aug 23, 2022

Do you understand paternity and why it matters? When you prove paternity, it gives you the legal right to be involved in your child’s life. It also lets you have your name on your child’s birth certificate. 

When you establish parentage or paternity, you also gain rights to your child, which gives you the parent responsibilities that are related to the child. You can also request custody from the court and, if granted, will be able to make decisions on your child’s behalf, including where they go to church or school. You can also receive physical placement, like overnight visits. Besides these rights, your child will receive child support, be added to a health insurance plan in your name, and receive social security benefits if you die or become disabled. 

There are two ways to establish paternity in Wisconsin – voluntary paternity acknowledgment or court order. 

Understanding Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment 

One of the easiest ways to determine paternity in Wisconsin, if you aren’t married, is by using a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form. It’s possible to use this form if the mother and father of the child are over 18 and agree that the man is the child’s father. 

Every hospital in the state of Wisconsin has this form and will notarize it on-site. It’s important to note that you can’t use this form if the child in question was conceived while the child’s mother was married to someone else. You must file the form with the State, and if it isn’t rescinded, there may be legal ramifications. It’s important that no one sign this form unless they are certain who the father of the child is. For those who are not completely sure, seek advice and guidance from an experienced custody lawyer. 

Court Order 

If you have been named as the possible father of a child and you don’t think this is true, you can have a court hearing scheduled. When you show up for the hearing, your responsibilities and rights will be explained. You can also request genetic testing to see if you are the child’s parent. Now is the time to request this. 

The child support agency will cover the costs of genetic testing until the child’s paternity is determined. If you are the parent (which can be proven with genetic testing), then you will likely have to cover the cost of the tests. If genetic testing proves that you are not the parent, then you won’t have to cover the cost of the tests. 

You can also object to the test results in court, but it’s worth noting that modern tests are extremely accurate, which will make this difficult. According to Wisconsin law, it’s necessary for the genetic test to show a probability of 99% or higher of paternity for you to be viewed as the father. 

If the child’s mother is married when the child is born, then it is presumed that the husband is the father. To overcome this presumption and to adjudicate another man, there are a few legal steps that you need to take. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that you take the right steps. 

Contact a Divorce Lawyer for Help with Custody Issues

If you are dealing with custody issues or need to determine paternity, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a divorce or custody attorney for assistance. This will ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the desired results for your situation.

Written by Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.

Divorce | Family Law

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