Establishing or Contesting Paternity in Nashville

Taking the first step toward child support, custody or visitation

Because visitation rights and support obligations are based on the biological relationship between parent and child, establishing paternity is often a necessary first step for mothers seeking child support and fathers seeking custody or visitation. The legal presumptions in place make establishing paternity unnecessary in most situations involving married parents. However, it can be a fairly common issue between unwed parents, especially those who had only a brief relationship. Our attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC fully understand the procedures in place for establishing or contesting paternity and have assisted parents in Nashville on both sides of the issue. We can advise you if paternity proceedings are necessary to obtain child support, custody or visitation and can guide you through every step of the process.

Presumptions regarding paternity

Under Tennessee law, there are several situations in which a presumption of paternity exists and no court process is necessary to establish paternity prior to child support or child custody proceedings:

  • The parents were married to each other at the time of birth or within 300 days prior to it.
  • The parents married after the child’s birth and the man registered as a putative father, consented to be listed on the child’s birth certificate or consented to provide support to the child.
  • The man has brought the child into his home and held him out as his son or daughter.

While these circumstances create a presumption of paternity, they are not unassailable and can be rebutted in court by clear and convincing evidence. In this way, paternity may become an issue during divorce or even while the presumed parents are still married.

Procedures for establishing or contesting the parentage of a child

Unless the father and mother agree to the entry of an order of parentage, paternity may be established or rebutted by filing a paternity suit in the proper Tennessee court. A mother, the child, a man claiming to be the father or the Tennessee Department of Human Services can initiate such a suit. Local child support offices may also petition for the establishment of paternity and child support as part of the same action. After a petition is filed, the court may order genetic testing to take place. If the petitioning party is successful in proving paternity by a preponderance of evidence —through genetic testing or other means — the court enters an order of parentage legally establishing paternity.

Call us today for legal counsel during paternity proceedings

If you are seeking to gain rights to child support, custody or visitation by establishing legal paternity, our attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC may be able to help. From our Nashville offices, within sight of the Davidson County Courthouse on Woodland Street in Historic Edgefield, we have assisted people on both sides of paternity disputes throughout Middle Tennessee. Call us today at 615-391-4200 or contact us online to schedule an in-person or video consultation.