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How is paternity established in Virginia?

Paternity is the act of identifying a child’s father. Establishing paternity is important for many reasons, including establishing child support obligations and creating a legal relationship between a man and his child. Both circumstances can ensure that a child is emotionally and financially stable while being able to develop a strong bond with their father. Of course, sometimes paternity is merely a means to secure child support, however, regardless of the desired outcome, paternity can only be established in one of the ways identified by state law.

In Virginia, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if the child was born during the parents’ marriage or shortly after their separation. While this presumption can be set aside, it can be a challenging issue to address. A much more common problem is establishing paternity for a child born out of wedlock.

Here, the law recognizes eight ways that paternity can be established. Under one portion of the statute, a man establishes paternity by merely allowing the child to use his surname. Another portion of the law establishes paternity if a man claims a child on a tax return or consents to his name being placed on the child’s birth certificate. More common ways of establishing paternity include signing a paternity affidavit and submitting to a reliable DNA test that shows a high likelihood of paternity.

Paternity issues can be critical, but the reason why may differ from case to case. Therefore, those dealing with questions of paternity are often facing other family law issues, such as fathers’ rights, child support, or child custody. To ensure that aggressive legal arguments are made in furtherance of one’s position on these matters, Virginians who find themselves in this situation should think about seeking out help from a competent legal professional.