This post is the second in a multi-part series on paternity law and men’s divorce. If you haven’t yet read part 1, I recommend you do before continuing.

Establishing Paternity (continued)

When a child is born to a married couple, the state presumes that man is the child’s father. Likewise, if the child is born within 300 days of its mother getting divorced or becoming a widow, the state presumes the ex or deceased husband is the father.

Father with his two sons. Paternity law and men's divorce.

When a child is born outside of these conditions, there are two ways for the father to be legally recognized. The first is called voluntary acknowledgement. If both parents are in agreement on who the child’s father is, they can fill out the voluntary acknowledgement form and file it with the state. Obviously, if the situation allows for it, this is the easier way to go.

If the parties do not agree who the child’s father is, then it becomes a paternity law case. The mother, the man who believes he is the father, the child’s legal guardian, or the New Mexico Department of Social Services all have the ability to file what is known as a Petition to Establish Parentage, Determine Custody and Time-Sharing and Assess Child Support. This is the legal instrument that allows the court to order a DNA test for purposes of establishing paternity.

Significance of Paternity

Once the state establishes paternity, both parents are legally recognized. This means they receive all of the rights and protections associated with legal parental status.

All of the court’s decisions regarding child custody, visitation, and support are made according to the “best interests” standard. This means that the court will base their decisions on what they perceive to be in the child’s best interests.

Check back soon for Paternity Law & Men’s Divorce – Resolving Family Disputes With Integrity and Civility, Part 3. In the meantime, check out our page on paternity law.