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Establish paternity to secure child support

A Rhode Island divorce can raise a whole host of legal issues. Barring the existence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, parting spouses will likely need to address property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. The battle over these issues can be heated, and those who fail to protect their legal rights can be taken advantage of. Reversing the course of an unfavorable outcome can be difficult too, so those who are being confronted by these family law legal issues need to ensure that they are prepared to do so competently.

But these issues are not isolated to those who are dissolving a marriage. Even those who were only in a brief relationship can find themselves thrust into these legal matters. The most common example is child support. When a child is born out of wedlock, the child's father is still expected to provide financial resources to the child. Yet, before a child support order can be obtained, paternity must be established.

In an instance where a child is born out of wedlock, paternity can be established by signing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or even the birth certificate. Although this act can be accomplished shortly after the child's birth, such an acknowledgment can be made at any time.

Paternity issues can become complicated, though, when a child's mother is married but his or her father is not the mother's spouse. Another issue can arise when a man denies that he is the father of a child. In these instances, depending on one's position on the matter, it might be wise to seek legal action to establish paternity.

Why is this important? For a number of reasons. First, a mother may only be able to recover child support monthly payments from a man once it is determined that he is the child's father. On the flip side, a father may not be able to obtain visitation with the child until he is legally deemed the child's father. So, those who have pending issues related to their child's well-being should consider consulting with an attorney who may be able to advocate for them as they navigate the legal process.

Source: FindLaw, "Chronology: Establishing Paternity," accessed on Feb. 20, 2017

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