If you have had a child out of wedlock, you are not alone. In 2013, about 42% of children in the United States were born to unwed parents. In Kansas, the number was a bit lower than the national average at 36.2%. It is important to know how having children outside of marriage affects parents’ legal rights. While the term “paternity case” may make you think it is only for cases where there is a question about who the father is, that is not the case.

For example, people often believe there is no need to formally establish paternity if the father signs the birth certificate. But it doesn’t matter if the father signed the birth certificate! If anyone wants a court to make orders regarding paternity, the court will first have to formally establish paternity. That is, a paternity case is necessary to do any of the following:

1. Mother wants the court to order child support;
2. The state is seeking current or past due child support; or
3. Father wants to establish parenting time (visitation) and custody.

A paternity case in Kansas can be filed by either parent or by the State of Kansas (Department of Children and Families). If you have questions about whether you should file a paternity action in Kansas, call our family law attorneys at Joseph Hollander & Craft today (Wichita: 316-262-9393 / Topeka: 785-234-3272 / Lawrence: 785-856-0143).