By establishing paternity, a child is given the opportunity to know who he or she is. The establishment of a legal relationship between a father and his child is likely to ensure that a father has an opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with his child. Along with the parental relationship come parental obligations, including the establishment of an Order for child support.
Paternity may be established by the entry of an Order of Court or by the execution of a Paternity Affidavit by the father at the time of the child’s birth. If the parties are in dispute with respect to the identity of the father, the Court may enter an Order for DNA testing to determine parentage.
Once paternity has been established, the Court shall also enter an Order with respect to custody, child support and parenting time. However, if the parties resolve these matters by agreement, and file a joint petition or a stipulated agreement, the Court may dispense with a Hearing. Without the entry of such an agreement by the parties, the Court would be required to conduct a Hearing due to its obligation to make such a determination in accordance with the "best interests of the child" standard with respect to custody and parenting time. Paternity must be established before the Court may enter an Order for the payment of child support.