If you are married when your child is born, paternity is automatic in North Carolina. The parents of that child are deemed the legal mother and father, with all rights and responsibilities that the roles entail. If you are not married at the time of the child’s birth, either the mother or father will need to establish paternity in order to have those rights and responsibilities applied. 

North Carolina paternity law provides that the paternity of a child may be established at any time before the child turns eighteen. A paternity action can be brought to court by either of the parents. A copy of the child’s birth certificate must be attached to a complaint, and proof of paternity must be shown by clear, sound, and convincing evidence. At trial, the judge will decide whether the alleged father is the child’s legal father. The judge or one of the parties may request genetic testing in the form of a paternity test to establish the familial relationship between the father and the child. If the alleged father does not respond or appear in court when a hearing is set, the court can enter a default order for paternity and support. The court accepts the information in the complaint as true and issues an order to pay child support and provide health care coverage based on that information.

Once paternity is established, the father has the legal right to have a relationship with his child. In addition, both parents would be requested to support their child. Parents interested in securing orders pertaining to custody or child support should contact an attorney for assistance.

 Contact Hatcher Law Group to consult with an experienced family law attorney to understand your rights and options moving forward.