The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates is a family law firm. Our practice handles a wide range of custody and child support cases. Contact us today to learn how a Huntsville paternity lawyer can help address your concerns.
We can guide you through the process from start to finish. We offer no-obligation evaluations, so you can learn more about your options and the next steps in your Huntsville paternity case.
We could help you:
- Establish paternity and get child support
- Gain custody and visitation with your child
- Prove you are not the biological or legal parent of a child
- Determine your legal rights based on paternity testing
Huntsville Paternity Guide
- How The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Helps in Huntsville Paternity Cases
- You Must Establish Paternity to Receive Parental Rights in Alabama
- Paternity Plays a Significant Role in Determining Court Orders
- Who Can Begin a Huntsville Paternity Case?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in Huntsville Paternity Cases
- Work With Our Team of Paternity Attorneys at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates
How The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Helps in Huntsville Paternity Cases
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, our family law attorneys work with individuals and families to establish paternity, parental rights, child support, and visitation. If necessary, we can also help individuals secure documentation showing they are not the child’s biological or legal parent.
We know how this process works and can guide you through it every step of the way. We understand this can prove challenging for everyone involved, and you can feel strong emotions.
Additional Resource: Best Huntsville, AL Divorce Lawyers
We want to ensure the courts hear your voice whether you:
- Want the other parent to share responsibility for your child
- Want to take part in your child’s life
- Do not want to bear responsibility for a child who is not yours
Our team can help you navigate the paternity testing process, establish legal paternity, and handle child support and custody issues. We can protect your rights and work to get a fair legal result for you and the child or children. We can stand with you throughout the testing process and present the facts of the case in the best way to help the judge understand your position.
We can develop a strong argument to help you achieve your goals and can discuss your options based on the outcome of paternity testing.
You Must Establish Paternity to Receive Parental Rights in Alabama
Under Alabama law, it is necessary to undergo paternity testing and establish paternity through the legal system if the parents were unmarried at the time of the child’s birth. This ensures the father has the same rights and obligations to the child as the mother. If you face a child support request or custody dispute without establishing paternity, the court in Madison, Limestone, or Morgan County will likely require testing before the case can move forward.
Several issues can lead to a court-ordered paternity case or cause a mother or father to request testing. Alabama family law focuses on the health and well-being of the child, and judges generally believe children fare better when both parents take an active role in their lives.
Therefore, a judge will likely require paternity testing when:
- The child was not born during a marriage or within 300 days of a divorce.
- A father does not acknowledge the child.
- A father wants contact with their child, but the mother disallows it.
- A mother requests child support.
- An individual supports a child but does not believe he is the father.
- Someone else claims to be the child’s father rather than the presumptive parent.
- Other cases when at least one of the parties believes paternity testing should take place and could affect the outcome of the case.
Testing for paternity generally involves a simple process. When the court or child support enforcement orders the testing or it is a part of a custody or child support case, this process goes through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
They can help you set up testing or offer you additional resources. These tests are noninvasive, and you could get results within two to five days, depending on the lab’s workload.
Paternity Plays a Significant Role in Determining Court Orders
Once the paternity test results return, we need to file paperwork to legally establish paternity in Alabama. This court action ensures both parents have equal rights and obligations regarding their child. At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, our team of Huntsville paternity attorneys knows how to handle these cases and ensure our clients’ rights remain protected.
When a court establishes paternity, it affects many aspects of child-rearing and care.
- Primary custodial parenting duties
- Decision-making for the child
- Shared time
- Child support
- Other financial obligations
In Alabama, parenting plans generally include shared decision-making and custody, unless the details of the case suggest otherwise. In some situations, the court may decide that one or both parents pose a threat to the child’s well-being and safety. Most parents receive regular visitation with the child, however, regardless of which parent has primary custody.
Alabama law requires judges to weigh several factors when making child custody and visitation decisions. Arranging custody or visitation is possible even when the parent did not previously know about the child.
Some things the judge will consider when making custody decisions include:
- The established relationship between the child and parents
- Each parent’s physical, mental, and emotional health
- The environment each parent provides for the child
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough to have an opinion
- The child’s age and gender
- Assessments from doctors, social workers, and other professionals
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
- Any history of abuse, neglect, violence, or other related concerns
- Whether altering custody will remove the child from their school or activities
When parents can agree on a parenting plan and visitation time, the judge will likely include their agreement in the court orders as long as it benefits the child.
Once the court decides primary custody and visitation, they will use Alabama’s child support formula for determining child support payments.
This formula considers:
- Each parent’s income
- The number of days the child spends with each parent
- The children’s essential financial needs, such as health insurance and medical care costs
- Other factors unique to the case
The non-custodial parent will bear responsibility for the child support obligation as ordered by the court.
Who Can Begin a Huntsville Paternity Case?
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we can represent clients in paternity cases regardless of who started it or whether you hope to prove or disprove paternity.
Some parties who can initiate this type of family law case include:
- The child’s mother
- The person the mother identifies as the father
- Someone who believes they may be the father
- The Alabama Department of Human Resources
- A licensed adoption or child-placement agency
We could also help if you are a loved one of a potential father who cannot take legal action on their own because of injury, death, or being under age of 18.
In some cases, we can help parents avoid this issue down the road.
In Alabama, the courts do not assume paternity unless:
- The parents were married at the time of birth.
- The parent’s divorce was within 300 days of the birth.
In other cases, you need to take steps to verify paternity and document the legal and biological father of the child. This may be as simple as signing the correct paperwork at the child’s birth or working with our team to have the court recognize paternity later.
For a legal consultation, call (256) 859-7277
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in Huntsville Paternity Cases
These frequently asked questions address some of the most common questions we hear during no-obligation evaluations with potential clients. You can learn more based on the circumstances of your unique case if you speak with our team during a case review.
How Do They Test for Paternity in Alabama?
Paternity tests consist of DNA tests to see if the genetics match the man in question and the child. Neither party needs to undergo any invasive testing or even a blood draw. Instead, the test requires a cheek swab taken by a trained professional.
The lab will look at the genetic material available from the cheek swabs and compare them. The result consists of a percentage of the likelihood that the two samples came from a father and child.
As a Mother, Can I Refuse to Have My Child Tested?
The court may allow you to refuse to test, but you should have evidence that not testing serves the child’s best interests. Since paternity testing does not involve pain or invasive procedures, this may be difficult to prove.
However, in cases where abuse or neglect previously occurred, it may be better that a child does not have contact with a biological parent. We understand you already had the strength to walk away and protect your child’s well-being. The court should not force you to put them in any danger.
Our team can discuss this possibility with you, assess your options, and help you decide your next steps. We know that you want what’s best for your child—and we want to help you secure just that.
My Test Results Came Back. What Do They Mean?
Paternity test results will list the likelihood that the two samples came from a parent and child. The higher the percentage, the more likely the two have a father-child relationship. Very frequently, the percentages can get much closer to 100 percent, such as 99.8 or 99.9 percent. The closer the test result is to 100, the more likely the court will accept this result as proof of parentage.
What If I Am Not the Father?
If the paternity test shows you may not be the child’s father, the court will release you from any legal responsibility. The mother may move on and test other possible fathers.
If you have participated in the child’s life and wish to maintain an active role, our team could help. This depends greatly on the circumstances of the case, your relationship with the child, and other factors. We can discuss this possibility more during your no-obligation case evaluation or as the need arises.
Can I Challenge the Paternity Test Results?
Some challenges to paternity test results could have success in court. However, this generally just calls for a retest. In most cases, challenges occur because of technical issues. We could challenge the results if there was a problem with the test, concerns over contamination, or other circumstances that could cause the judge to throw out the results.
Can I File for Custody or Visitation if I Am the Father?
As a biological parent who establishes paternity, you will have both rights and obligations to the child. Yes, you can file for custody and/or visitation. The courts generally like both parents to share legal custody and decision-making and the child to spend quality time with both parents.
If you and the child’s mother cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the court will review the necessary information and decide on primary physical custody, visitation, and other details, such as how to handle holidays.
Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Am the Father?
In addition to the right to custody and visitation, a father may have an obligation to support their child financially after establishing paternity. The court will use a special formula that considers the income of both parents and how often you have parenting time with the child to determine how much you could need to pay in child support each month.
If you receive primary custody of the child and they have regular visitation with their mother, the mother may need to pay child support to you. The judge will address this in the court order regarding custody, visitation, and support.
Work With Our Team of Paternity Attorneys at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, our team of family law attorneys wants you to feel confident that we prioritize your best interests and work to help you meet your goals in your case.
We learn our client’s story and ensure the judge, the other parent, and other involved parties hear their point of view as well. Therefore, we offer free, no-obligation evaluations.
You can learn more about how we can represent you and fight to protect your rights during this conversation with our team.
The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates Huntsville Office Location:1500 Perimeter Parkway #275
Huntsville, AL 35806