Franklin Paternity Lawyer

Helping you challenge or enforce paternity

When a married couple has a child in Tennessee, the law assumes that the husband is the father. But that might not always be the case. The nuclear family is also becoming far less common than it used to be. Babies are being born to unmarried couples, women who have had multiple partners, women who got pregnant during a separation, or right after a divorce, women who cheat on their spouses, and other non-traditional and legally sticky situations.

As a Franklin family lawyer, I’ve seen it all. I help women who are trying to get the child support they need to care for their children establish paternity. I help men who are not certain they are actually the father challenge paternity or prove fraud. I help my clients ensure that responsible parties are paying the child support they should to care for the children who need it.

How does Tennessee law establish paternity?

There are two ways that paternity is established in Tennessee: Voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntarily is the easiest way. Two married people show up to the hospital when the baby is born, and the law assumes the husband is the father, and his name is put down on the birth certificate. Or, two unmarried people show up to the hospital and both agree that the man is the father and sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” in front of a notary. Then the man’s name is added to the birth certificate. The form can also be signed later at the Office of Vital Records or the child support office.

Involuntarily establishing paternity refers to those times that paternity is contested. Such cases might include a woman enforcing child support responsibilities on a man who tries to deny paternity. Or a man who feels that his wife had another partner. These cases have to be brought to court with a family lawyer. The court does not automatically issue an “order of parentage” – or an order to get a DNA test to prove or disprove paternity – so you have to work with an attorney to show evidence for why one is needed. I work with clients to get the order of parentage they need to either get child support from fathers who are refusing it or to stop a child support order that they believe is being enforced unfairly.

Navigating assumptions in Tennessee family law

Tennessee law can complicate paternity cases because of certain assumptions that it makes. The primary example is that it assumes a married man is always the father of his wife’s child. We know through practice that this is not always the case. Other assumptions that Tennessee law makes include:

  • Two people were married within 300 days before the child’s birth (This also applies to children born within 10 months after a couple divorces.)
  • A man acknowledges paternity in writing or consents in writing to be listed as the father on the birth certificate
  • A man agrees in writing to pay child support or is ordered by the court to do so
  • A man openly treats the child as his natural child and the child lives with him
  • DNA testing shows a 95 percent probability that the man is the father

Though some of these assumptions seem reasonable, it is easy to see why they are problematic on closer inspection. Take the assumption that any baby born within 10 months after a divorce is the child of the man in the divorce. A woman could have had relations with another man the day after she moved out and given birth to a baby within that time frame that was not her former husband’s. Or she could have started seeing someone during the separation or while the divorce was being negotiated. Or she could have been unfaithful, which was the cause for the divorce.

These assumptions also overlook paternity fraud, which is a reality. A woman may name one man as the father, knowing that the real father will not – or cannot – take financial responsibility for her child. I help my clients fight paternity fraud by gathering the needed evidence, such as proof of infidelity or falsified documents. I work with a team of specialists, including private investigators, forensic analysts, and professional process servers to uncover needed evidence. I pursue every lead to make the strongest case possible for my clients.

Experienced Franklin Tennessee paternity lawyer uncovers the truth to resolve child support claims

Whether you are the mother trying to prove paternity to get the child support you need, or you’re the father paying child support you believe you do not owe because of paternity fraud, I can help you. I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Franklin paternity lawyer, and I am dedicated to helping you establish the truth of paternity to ensure the right person is paying the proper child support. Call me today at (615) 791-8511 or use my secure online form to schedule a free consultation. Work with me, a seasoned Tennessee family law attorney to sort through the often complicated laws surrounding paternity and child support and protect your rights.