Process for Establishing Paternity in Tennessee


Paternity is a serious legal matter in the state of Tennessee. Establishing paternity can be used in a court case where fathers have been denied access to their children as well as in cases when an individual is being accused of fathering a child that they have not. DNA evaluation does not lie either, which means the results of the testing will hold up in court when the judge rules on rights and responsibilities. There are more legal rights at stake than merely a father wanting to build a relationship with their biological child. Children have a right to a relationship with a parent also, with the court stepping in as the child’s advocate in certain instances. Here is how the process is applied in Tennessee courts.

Initiating a case

The first step in beginning a paternity determination in Tennessee begins with filing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity claim with the local Child Support office. However, this should not be done if there is a question on paternity. There is typically a child support issue of some type associated with each paternity dispute, and some will be denying paternity while others will be wanting an official determination. The state of Tennessee recognizes married couples as the parents of any child born in legal wedlock, and often it is difficult to reverse this recognition even when the biological father is someone other than the husband. This is a fundamental family law principle in Tennessee. All that is needed is a photo identification and a Social Security number.

Court response

Depending on the material facts presented by either party in a paternity case, the court will more than likely order a paternity test if the child is under age 19. This typically applies to the Child Support division because financial responsibilities may exist. There are reasons such as medical or inheritance issues that can apply as well for adult paternity establishment, but most cases go through family court. The court will then rule based on the results of the DNA evaluation.

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