Paternity: Understanding Your Rights

If you are a parent of a child born outside of marriage, a paternity action allows you to establish the rights and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the financial support and legal and physical custody of the child.

Formalizing Paternity

Even if you and the other parent are cooperating, you may want to consider formalizing the rights and responsibilities of each of you before problems arise. Establishing these agreements early on provides a legal and financial safety net for you and your child.

Mediation or the collaborative process may be used to resolve the issues that arise in paternity matters in a non-adversarial way. These processes are also helpful in establishing an effective co-parenting relationship going forward. If that is not possible, these issues can be resolved through litigation. If you would like to discuss your paternity action please give us a call.

Parenting Plans for Never Married Parents

Parenting Plans for never married parents are similar to parenting plans entered in divorces. The physical and legal custody issues are specified as well as the financial responsibilities of each parent. It is not unusual for parents to delay formalizing there arrangements if things are going smoothly, however this can sometimes be a mistake. Circumstances such as the relocation of a parent or marriage of a parent can disrupt a previously cooperative parenting relationship. Contested litigation moves slowly and it can take some time before contested custody and financial issues are resolved. A proactive approach is often better when it comes to resolving paternity cases.


If you are involved in custody litigation in a paternity case, it is likely that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) will be appointed by the court to represent the best interest of your child. The court will also enter orders requiring the parents to pay the GAL fees. The GAL will meet with you, the other parent, and often also with the child. The GAL will also be authorized to obtain additional information about the child such as medical, psychological or educational records. The GAL will then assist you in attempting to resolve the custody dispute, may make recommendations regarding the custody schedule, and in the event the dispute is not resolved, will participate as the lawyer for the children in the paternity and custody litigation.