State Laws

The following state provisions address proper designation of parties in an action for paternity, custody, child support, and termination of parental rights. All of these issues may be ruled upon in conjunction with a paternity action:

  • AL: (C.A. 30-2-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: moral character, age and gen-der of child. Child Support: until age 19, either party may be ordered to pay, “as may seem right and proper,” based on moral character and prudence, age and gender of child. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; excessive substance abuse; physical injury resulting from neglect; felony conviction.
  • AK: (A.S. 25.24.010) Plaintiff v. Respondent. Custody Factors: best interests of the child, various criteria. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: noncustodial parent withholds consent to adoption, child conceived as a result of sexual abuse of a minor.
  • AZ: (A.R.S. 25-311) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: best interests of the child, various criteria. Child Support: until age 18, either party may be ordered to pay, “as may seem right and proper,” based on moral character and prudence, age and gender of child. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or willful abuse; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; felony conviction; potential father failed to file paternity action within 30 days as prescribed by law; formal relinquishment of rights.
  • AR: (A.C.A. 9-12-301) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, without regard to gender of parent. Child Support: until age 18, Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or abuse; non-custodial parent withholds consent to adoption.
  • CA: (Several Code provisions)Petitioner v. Respondent. Irrebutable presumption of paternity for husband for all children born during marriage. Custody Factors: best interests of child; nature and contact with each parent; any other relevant factor. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or abuse; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; substance abuse.
  • CO: (C.R.S.A. 14-10-106) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: best interests of child, including wishes of all parties. Child Support: until age 21. Termination of Parental Rights: physical or sexual abuse; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; substance abuse; violent conduct.
  • CT: (C.G.S.A. 46b-40) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interests of the child, law favors joint custody. Child Support: until age 18, either party may be ordered to pay, various criteria. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment or neglect.
  • DE: (D.C.A. 13-1502)) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: best interests of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment or neglect; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; felony conviction in which child was a victim.
  • DC: (D.C.C. 16-901-916) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: physical, emotional or mental illness or deficiency; substance abuse.
  • FL: (F.S. 61.001) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: Joint is preferred, but best interests of child to establish primary residence. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; egregious conduct which threatens life or wellbeing of child; incarceration.
  • GA: (C.G.A. 19-5-1) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: non-specific, but children over 14 can choose which parent to live with. moral character, age and gender of child. Child Support: until age 18.Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; excessive substance abuse; physical or emotional neglect; felony conviction.
  • HI: (H.R.S. 580-41) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interests of child, child’s wishes. Child Support: until age 18, Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; neglect.
  • IL: (750 ILCS 5/101) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: wishes of the parties and child, and additional criteria Child Support: until age 18 (750 ILCS 5/505). Termination of Parental Rights: abuse.
  • IN: (A.I.C. 31-1-11.5) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: wishes of the parties and child, and additional criteria Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; best interest of the child.
  • IA: (I.C.A. 598.1) Petitioner v. Respondent. Custody Factors: best interests of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; excessive substance abuse.
  • KS: (K.S.A. 60-1601) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: moral character, age and gender of child. Child Support: until age 19, either party may be ordered to pay, “as may seem right and proper,” based on moral character and prudence, age and gender of child. Termination of Parental Rights: emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; abuse or neglect; substance abuse; physical injury resulting from neglect; felony conviction.
  • KY: (K.R.S. 403.010) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: best interest of the child, considering various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect.
  • LA: (LSA C.C. Art. 102) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: Joint custody is preferred; best interest of child using various factors.moral character, age and gender of child. Child Support: until age 18 (LSA Rev. St. 9:315) Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; extreme abuse, all forms; misconduct of parent toward child.
  • MN: (19 M.R.S.A. 661) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; misconduct toward child; felony conviction where child was the victim.
  • MD: (A.C.M Familly Law 7-101) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: none. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: child has been out of the custody of natural parents for over one year; abuse conviction; crime of violence conviction.
  • MA: (A.L.M. C208-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: none in statute. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; all forms of neglect or abuse; felony conviction.
  • MI: (M.C.L.A. 552.1/M.S.A. 25.96) Complainant v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, with various factors. Child Support: until age 18 or beyond if still completing high school. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; all forms of abuse; parental long-term imprisonment; chronic neglect.
  • MN: (M.S.A. 518.002) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: the parties’ wishes and child’s preference, if of sufficient age, various factors. Child Support: until age 18 (M.S.A. 518.551). Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; unfit parent; chemical dependency of parent; parent palpably unfit; abuse or neglect; child experienced severe harm while in parent’s care.
  • MS: (M.C. 93-5-1)Complainant v. Defendant. Custody Factors: none by statute, but child of 12 may choose. Child Support: until age 21. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; abusive incidents; substance abuse.
  • MO: (A.M.S. 452.300) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect; child was conceived as a result of rape; substance abuse; felony conviction in which child was victim.
  • MT: (M.C.A.40-4-101) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: parties’ wishes, various factors. Child Support: until age 18, various factors. Termination of Parental Rights: unfit parent; absence of child-parent relationship; irrevocable waiver.
  • NE: (R.S.N. 42-301) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: best interest of child, considering various factors. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; excessive substance abuse; physical injury resulting from neglect; felony conviction. Plaintiff v. Defendant.
  • NV: (N.R.S.A. 125.010) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. several factors. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect; parental unfitness; risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm to child.
  • NH: (N.H.R.S.A. 458:4) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: joint custody presumed in the child’s best interest. Child Support: until age 18, both parties responsible. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; all forms of abuse or neglect; felony conviction.
  • NJ: (NJSA 2A:34-2) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; or potential for harm to child.
  • NM: (N.M.S.A. 40-4-1) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or abuse; child placed in the permanent care of others.
  • NY: (C.L.N.Y, D.R.I 170) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18, needs are determined as a percentage of parents’ combined income. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; surrender of child to authorities.
  • NC: (G.S.N.C. 50-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18, various factors. Termination of Parental Rights: neglect or abuse; leaving child in foster care for more than 12 months; abandonment.
  • ND: (N.D.C.C. 14-05-01) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: several factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: neglect or misconduct, faults or habits of parent; physical illness or mental illness or deficiency; child suffers from mental, moral, or emotional harm.
  • OH: (O.R.C. 3105.01) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, with various factors. Child Support: until age 18, medical insurance payment must be made to enforcement agency. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect.
  • OK: (43 O.S.A. 101) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child and child preference. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; conviction for child abuse or neglect; all forms of abuse; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency.
  • OR: (O.R.S. 107.015) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: joint custody only awarded of both parties agree. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: physical or sexual abuse or neglect; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; substance abuse.
  • PA: (Pa.C.S.A. 3101) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 21. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect; child removed from parents by court; child conceived as a result of rape or incest.
  • RI: (G.L.R.I. 15-5-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; parental unfitness.
  • SC: (C.L.S.C. 20-3-10) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: various factors in interest of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: best interest of child; abuse or neglect; abandonment; substance abuse; mental of physical deficiency of parent.
  • SD: (S.D.C.L. 25-4-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: “as may seem necessary and proper.” Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment.
  • TN: (T.C.A. 36-4-101) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: Best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; child removed by court order; severe child abuse; incarceration sentence of 10 years; incompetency.
  • TX: (T.C.A., F.C. 3.01) Petitioner v Respondent Custody Factors: referred to as “managing conservatorship,” various factors.moral character, age and gender of child. Child Support: until age 19, either party may be ordered to pay, “as may seem right and proper,” based on moral character and prudence, age and gender of child. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect; sexual abuse of other child by parent.
  • UT: (U.C. 30-3-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18 (U.C. 78-45-7). Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or abuse; parental unfitness.
  • VT: (15 V.S.A. 551) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: failure to support child or exercise parental responsibility; conviction of crime of violence; risk of harm to child.
  • VA: (C.V. 20-91) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child, various factors. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency; neglect or abuse; habitual substance abuse.
  • WA: (R.C.W.A. 26.09.010) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: each parties relative fitness and agreement between parties, other criteria. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: habitual substance abuse; emotional illness or mental illness or deficiency.
  • WV: (W.V.C. 48-2-1) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: none, but presumption in favor of primary caretaker. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; abuse or neglect.
  • WI: (W.S.A. 767.001) Petitioner v Respondent. Custody Factors: “legal custody and physical placement.” Best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; continuing need for protective services; abuse; failure to assume parental responsibility; incestuous parenthood; intentional killing of other parent.
  • WY: (W.S.A. 20-2-104) Plaintiff v. Defendant. Custody Factors: best interest of child. Child Support: until age 18. Termination of Parental Rights: abandonment; neglect or abuse; parental incarceration or unfitness.

Inside State Laws