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Paternity Actions In South Carolina


To establish “paternity” means to determine who is the legal father of a child. With so many children being born out of wedlock (to unmarried individuals) these days, paternity establishment has become a common practice in the family courts nationwide.

If a couple is married, the woman’s husband automatically becomes the child’s legal father, even if the husband is NOT the biological father. So, if a woman has an affair while she’s married and she becomes pregnant with the other man’s baby, the biological father would have zero parental rights unless he petitioned the court to establish paternity.

If a woman becomes pregnant and she is not married, paternity must be legally established before she can seek child support, and before the father could ask for child custody or visitation. In light of this, there are many benefits to establishing paternity:

Establishing paternity helps children:

  • Feel good because they know who their father is.
  • Feel cared for because their father helps support them.
  • Be provided for financially by two parents.
  • Have access to their fathers’ medical history.
  • Gain access to Social Security benefits under their father’s work record.
  • Have a right to an inheritance through their father or his family.
  • Enjoy having two loving parents in their lives.
  • Prevent high-risk behaviors associated with fatherless children.
  • Access health and life insurance through their father.

It helps fathers:

  • Have a meaningful relationship with their sons and daughters.
  • Share their family with their child.
  • Enjoy raising a child.
  • Ask the court for child custody or visitation.

It helps mothers:

  • Get financial help raising the child.
  • Share the joys of parenting.
  • Get emotional support raising the child.

Whether you are a mother or possible father, if you are not 100% sure about a child’s biological father, you can ask the court for DNA testing. If paternity is confirmed, you can proceed to seek child support, custody, and visitation orders from the court.

If unmarried parents do not question paternity, they can legally establish paternity through a paternity acknowledgement after the baby is born in the hospital, or after leaving the hospital through DHEC Vital Records or a county health department.

To file a paternity action in court, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A. today.

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