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On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law posted in paternity on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Many Kentucky couples are in committed relationships, yet remain unmarried. These couples often have children, and may not realize that the state does not automatically assume that the mother’s partner is the biological father of the child. Simply putting the father’s name on the birth certificate is not enough to legally establish paternity.

This might not present a problem in the beginning, but any number of issues could arise that are affected by the biological father not being recognized legally. For instance, if the couple’s relationship ends, issues surrounding custody, visitation and child support will undoubtedly arise. Without establishing paternity formally, the father has no legal rights or responsibilities when it comes to the child.

Before any proceedings for custody or support can be heard by a Kentucky court, paternity must be established. Neither of you may like taking this step, but it is essential. You and your partner might know what the results will be, but frankly, the court was not present when the child was conceived. Therefore, proof must be provided, and most often that is done through DNA testing. Barring any surprises, once overcoming that hurdle, other important issues can be resolved.

Going through a paternity action and any related custody and support issues can be an emotional and heart-wrenching experience. Even if a couple is still happy and together, establishing legal paternity should still be done in order to ensure that there are no barriers between the biological father and the child. A compassionate and knowledgeable attorney can guide and assist you through the process.

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