In North Carolina, if a child is born out of wedlock, the proper way to establish a legal relationship between the father and child is by bringing a civil suit to establish paternity of the child.  Whether you are the mother or father of a child born out of wedlock, our office can assist you with your paternity action.

When can the suit be filed?

A civil suit to establish paternity of a child may be filed at any time prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

Who can file the suit?

Paternity actions may be filed by the child’s mother, father, child, the personal representative of the mother or child, or by social services.

There are special rules and strict time limitations for situations in which the father passes away prior to a paternity action being commenced and/or completed.  In such situations, it is particularly important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

What issues might the Court decide?

In a paternity action, depending on your individual case, you may discuss and possibly litigate the issue of not only paternity of the child, but other issues such as a child-sharing schedule, child support and attorney fees associated with the suit.

Why is it important to obtain a court order of paternity?

Some parents might wonder whether it is necessary to file a paternity action, particularly if the parents have an amicable relationship.  There are many factors that should be considered, including but not limited to the following:

(1)        The need for a predictable child-sharing schedule which ensures quality time with each parent so long as it is in the best interests of the child.  If there is a court-ordered schedule, there are better enforcement mechanisms, and better predictability for both the parents and the child.  An informal child-sharing schedule has the potential to be very difficult if not impossible to enforce if any issues arise.

(2)        The need for the other parent to be able to step in and care for the child should the other parent become incapacitated or deceased.

(3)        The need for child support.

Cases involving the paternity and/or custody of a child are particularly stressful.  For more detailed information or to discuss your case with an experienced attorney, contact us now for a consultation. You may also reach us at 910.399.3725.

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