It is understandable for parents to want to establish the paternity of a child for many reasons. Establishing paternity (in the legal sense) will determine who is the child’s legal father, which might not necessarily be the child’s biological father. While every child will obviously have a biological father, not every child has a father with legally established paternity and the associated obligations that come with it.
As a result, establishing paternity can confer specific rights and obligations to the legal father, which is crucial to mothers seeking child support, and is also critical to fathers who may be trying to exercise their child custody or visitation rights.
If you need help with any kind of paternity issue in the greater Memphis area, having experienced legal representation is vital. Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law has been handling complex family law cases for more than 20 years. You can have us discuss your rights as soon as you call (901) 390-9041 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Tennessee Paternity Laws
Tennessee Code § 68-3-305(a)(1) establishes that when a mother is married to the natural father, the name of the natural father will be entered on the certificate. The surname of the child will be entered on the certificate as either the surname of the natural father or the surname of the natural father in combination with either the mother’s surname or the mother’s maiden surname.
Under Tennessee Code § 68-3-305(b)(2)(B), a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can be completed by a minor with the consent of a parent or legal guardian who is present at the time of completion. When a form is approved acknowledging the paternity of a child, signed by both parents of the child, and submitted to the office of vital records at any time after the original certificate is filed and prior to the child’s 19th birthday, the legal surname of the father can be entered on the certificate as that of the child.
The father’s name and other personal information may be shown on the birth certificate. The name and personal information of the originally named father will be removed when a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is rescinded and a new father is not named, and the child’s surname will be blocked with the legal surname of the mother at the time of the birth being entered as the surname of the child.
Tennessee Code § 36-2-305(a) establishes that a court can enter an order of parentage upon the agreement of the mother and father unless it orders genetic testing on its own motion. The mother and father must affirmatively acknowledge their parentage of the child in any such agreement, which complies with the requirements of Tennessee Code § 36-2-311.
Under Tennessee Code § 36-2-311, a court must make an order declaring the father of the child when establishing parentage, and the order must include the following:
The full names and residential and mailing addresses of the mother, father, and child;
The birthdates and social security numbers of the mother, father and the child;
The father’s place of birth;
The home telephone numbers of the mother and the father;
The driver license numbers of mother and father;
The name, address, and telephone number of the mother and father’s employers;
The availability of health insurance to cover the child;
Determination of the child’s name on their birth certificate;
Determination of the custody of the child;
Determination of visitation or parental access;
Determination of child support and retroactive support awards must consider the extent to which the father did not know, and could not have known, of the existence of the child, the extent to which the mother intentionally, and without good cause, failed or refused to notify the father of the existence of the child, and the attempts, if any, by the child’s mother or caretaker to notify the father of his possible parentage.
Tennessee Code § 36-2-305(b)(1) states that a complaint to establish parentage of a child can be filed by:
The child when they have reached the age of majority (18 years of age in Tennessee), or when the child is a minor, the child through a guardian or next friend;
The child’s mother when they have reached the age of majority, or when the mother is a minor, the mother’s personal representative, parent, or guardian;
A man claiming to be the child’s father when they have reached the age of majority, or if the man is a minor, the man’s parent, guardian, or personal representative;
The department of human services or its contractor.
An action can be commenced by serving a summons and tried as a civil action or notice of the filing of the complaint can be delivered to the defendant or the defendant’s representative. When a defendant fails to make an appearance or file an answer to the complaint, the court can proceed as in civil cases or it can issue a warrant for the apprehension of the defendant to bring before the court for adjudication as to the paternity of the child.
An action to establish the parentage of a child can be instituted before or after the birth of the child and until three years beyond the child’s age of majority. A trial relating to paternity is conducted without a jury, and a default judgment can be entered against a defendant upon a showing of service of process on the defendant in which the defendant failed to answer or make an appearance within 30 days of service.
How Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law Can Help
Paternity issues can arise in all kinds of divorce and even non-divorce-related family matters. Some men are being named paternal fathers when they are not actually the fathers of children, while others may be fighting to secure their paternal rights.
Mothers similarly experience numerous issues when trying to prove the paternity of a child. Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law has handled all kinds of paternity cases in Tennessee and is ready to assist you with any paternity matter that needs a fair resolution.
There are many benefits to establishing paternity in Tennessee, which Attorney Shannon Jones can assist with. Some of the most common reasons people seek to establish paternity include:
Allowing the child to form relationships with both parents and extended families
Securing of custody and visitation rights
The sharing of financial responsibilities
Specific benefits like health insurance, life insurance, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and others could be available to legal dependents
Child support could be discussed or court-ordered
Establishing paternity can help the child form stronger family bonds, understand their genetic makeup and medical history, and can provide additional financial support when necessary.
Contact Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law Today
The laws surrounding paternity can be complicated, so turn to Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law for help with any paternity issue you might have. If you are a father seeking custody or visitation with your child, or if you’re a mother wishing to establish paternity for child support, or for any other paternity matters, contact us for help.
Our firm understands the importance of these issues to parents and we work tirelessly to help people achieve working resolutions. Schedule a consultation with us today by calling (901) 390-9041 or by filling out a contact form on our site.