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Establishing Paternity in Columbia, South Carolina


When a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes that the woman’s husband is the child’s biological and legal father. But when a child is born out of wedlock, the biological father has zero legal rights or responsibilities toward his child. This means that if the mother doesn’t want the father in the child’s life, the father has no say.

If a child is born to a married couple, the law presumes that the woman’s husband is the child’s legal father, even if the woman’s husband is not the child’s biological father. So, if another man is the child’s actual father, he would have to file a paternity action to establish paternity before he could be in his child’s life.

How is Paternity Established?

In South Carolina, when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity must be legally established before the court can make orders for child support, child custody, and visitation. Without legally establishing paternity, the mother cannot seek child support and the father has no way to be in his child’s life if the mother doesn’t allow it.

There are two main ways paternity is legally established in South Carolina. First, the mother and presumed father can both voluntarily sign a Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit at the hospital just before or after the baby’s birth. The second method is for the presumed father and child to submit to DNA testing.

If the test results come back that the man is the child’s biological father, paternity can be established and the father will have all the same legal rights and responsibilities as a father is married to the child’s mother.

Establish paternity is beneficial for children because it:

  • Allows the child to know who their father is
  • Allows the child to be loved and financially supported by both parents
  • Gives the child access to their family medical history
  • Entitles the child to an inheritance and Social Security benefits
  • Entitles the child to health insurance from both parents
  • Allows the father’s name to be on the child’s birth certificate
  • Allows the child to develop an emotional bond with their father

If you are not 100% sure about your child’s paternity, you should not sign the Paternity Acknowledgement Affidavit form at the hospital. Instead, you should seek to have a DNA test performed. If the results come back positive, then the court can issue orders for child support and visitation, etc.

Next: FAQs About Child Support in South Carolina

To learn more about establishing paternity in Columbia, SC, contact Masella Law Firm, P.A.

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