The birth of a child is typically a happy affair that evokes images of celebration. Unfortunately, there are times when questions arise about a child’s paternity that reduce the happiness surrounding such an event.
If you find yourself in this situation and you live in Kansas, keep reading to understand what you will need to do to either establish paternity and secure your parental rights or object to the establishment of paternity and free yourself from the financial obligations that come with being recognized as a child’s father.
Kansas laws (Kansas Statutes Annotated, K.S.A. 23-2208) outline the reasons or presumptions that a Court can make to recognize you to be a child’s father. For example, K.S.A. 23-2208(a)(1) states that a child born during a marriage or within 300 days of a marriage is presumed to be a child of the marriage. Thus, if you were married to the mother and you wish to assert yourself as the child’s father, then the law will support that. If, on the other hand, you were married but learned that the child might be fathered by a different person, it will be necessary to share that with your attorney and the Court. Failure to do so will result in child support obligations to you.
If you were not married to the child’s mother or you disagree that you are the child’s biological father then additional steps will have to take place in order to address the child’s parentage.
If you were not married to your child’s mother at the time of birth, you will not automatically be deemed the child’s legal father, even if you both lived together and operated as parents throughout the child’s life. An exception to this rule is if you have signed the child’s birth certificate (see K.S.A. 23-2208(a)(4).)
If you did not sign the child’s birth certificate, you will have to take steps to confirm paternity. After the child’s birth certificate has been issued, both parents will have to file a form together recognizing that you are the child’s father and an Order from a District Court ordering the Department of Vital Statistics to Amend the Birth Certificate. The forms can be found at Kansas Vital Statistics. Now, the downside to doing only this without first consulting an attorney is that additional obligations may arise that you did not first contemplate.
If your ex does not agree to file paperwork acknowledging your paternity, you will need to take legal action in Court to establish paternity. Once in Court, the court will order DNA testing. If a test confirms that you are the biological father, a court order designates you as the legal father, and you will be afforded rights and responsibilities to your child.
What If I Am Not the Father?
It won’t be easy to deal with finding out that you are not the biological father of a child that you thought was yours. But this does not mean you are absolved of your rights and responsibilities as a parent. If you were previously named the child’s legal parent because you were married to the child’s mother or because the two of you submitted an acknowledgment of paternity, you still maintain all of your legal rights and responsibilities to that child. However, if you wish to revoke or disestablish paternity, you will be required to petition the court to dissolve your legal obligations. The court will consider various factors to determine the child’s best interest in that case. The Court will hold a “Ross Hearing” to help make that determination.
What Happens if You Do Not Establish Paternity?
This is a complex question. If you are on the child’s birth certificate, each parent will have legal rights to the child, and law enforcement will not step in if an argument arises about who is supposed to have parenting time with the child. Additionally, depending on whether you were married to the child’s mother or not, child support may accumulate. Thus, the best course of action is to move quickly to establish legal parental rights.
How We Can Help You
Our family law attorneys are committed to protecting clients’ rights—whether to be a part of their child’s life or dissolve themselves of the responsibility of a child that is not biologically theirs. Call to schedule a consult, we will discuss your case and explain how Kansas laws apply to your case. We are here to help.