A paternity action seeks to establish a male as the father of a minor child born out of wedlock. A paternity action can be filed by the mother, the father, a guardian or a public welfare agency. A paternity action can be instituted during the pregnancy of the mother or after the birth of the child.
For purposes of establishing a duty to pay child support, the paternity action must be filed before the child’s 18th birthday but child support can only be established retroactively for a period of three years prior to the filing of the Paternity Complaint in most instances.
Paternity can be established voluntarily and, if so, can be accomplished quite quickly. Custody, parental access and child support are established in the same manner as it is established in the context of a divorce.