Complaint for Paternity
The complaining party has the legal burden of establishing requisite facts in a paternity action. A petition filed with the court should contain the following basic statements:
- a citation of the state paternity statute under which the action is being brought (the legal authority)
- a statement of residency for the complaining party (for establishing the court’s jurisdiction over the parties)
- a statement of residency for the responding party (for establishing the court’s jurisdiction over the parties)
- the child’s full name and date of birth
- a statement of relationship between the complaining party and the child or unborn child
- a statement of relationship between the responding party and the child or unborn child
- a statement that the child was or was not born while the mother was married to someone else
- a statement addressing the status of any pending custody or visitation actions related to the child
- a statement of any facts tending to support a finding of paternity
Similar to other civil suits, the party who files the action will be responsible for providing supporting documents, paying the filing fee with the court, and serving the responding party with a summons and copy of the complaint. There is usually a requirement that other necessary parties be notified. For example, if the action is filed by a guardian of the child or a social services office, the mother or anyone having legal custody of the child must be served along with the alleged father.
A court will not automatically order paternity tests simply because a paternity action has been filed. It will review the petition to determine if there is sufficient information contained therein to warrant or justify the compelling of such a test. If the court orders a paternity test, the mother, child, and alleged father will all be tested at a court-designated facility. If the man did not initiate the paternity action, and test results determine that he is not the father, the cost of the testing will be charged to the party who filed the paternity action.
A court determination of paternity is final, and a copy of the court’s order will be needed to establish the child’s rights, both present and future. Parties should seek court-certified “true copies” of original orders.