you have a child or children with an individual to whom you are not
married, you must file a Petition to Establish the Parental Relationship
or a Paternity lawsuit in order to obtain court orders regarding your
child custody, visitation, and/or child support issues.
In order to
initiate a paternity case, you must prepare and file a Summons and
Petition together with any other applicable forms. Upon filing, the Court
issues your Summons and assigns you a case number. The other parent must
be personally served with your Summons and other documents. You can have
anyone over the age of 18 serve the other parent at no cost or you may
choose to have our office have the other parent served by our registered
process servers at an additional fee.
other parent is served with your Summons and other documents, he or she
will have 30 days to file the appropriate documents in Court to contest
your matter or they can opt to do nothing.
other parent does not file the necessary documents with the Court to
contest, your paternity may proceed by default. You must prepare and file
the default package with the Court. After the Court processes your
default package, you must then prepare and file the judgment package to
finalize your paternity. As you are requesting orders to establish the
parental relationship, including the issues of child custody, visitation,
and child support, the Court may request that you attend a Default Trial
in order for the Judge to make a ruling on these issues. This process
usually takes a minimum of six months to complete.
other parent does file the necessary documents with the Court to contest,
you must then complete your paternity by either agreement or trial.
If you and
the other parent can agree to all the issues involved in your paternity,
i.e. child custody, visitation, and child support, your paternity
can be completed by agreement. You and the other parent must complete all
of the necessary documents, including the agreement, in order to have the
Court finalize your paternity.
If you and
the other parent cannot agree to all of the issues involved in your
paternity, then a trial date must be requested so that you can go before a
Judge in order to obtain your final judgment regarding your child custody,
visitation, and child support. You must prepare all of the mandated trial
documents and submit them in a timely manner in order for your trial to
proceed. If it becomes necessary for you to go to trial, it is always
recommended that you have an attorney appear with you so that you have
appropriate representation as this hearing will result in the Judge
rendering a final decision on your child custody, visitation, and child