Paternity Issues in a Las Vegas Divorce
Typically, the parentage of children to a marriage is clear: The married parties are the legal parents of the children. If, however, there is a question as to the identity of the biological father, or if the children are from a previous relationship, then issues of paternity might arise. In a divorce, it is important for all parties to know and establish their legal status with regards to any children. If the husband’s paternity is unknown or unclear, there could be legal consequences for the paternity issues in a Las Vegas divorce.
Paternity Must be Established
Paternity refers to the legal relationship between a father and a child. In Nevada, if a child is born during a marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father. An interested party can legally challenge that presumption, such as the mother, the putative father, or another person claiming to be the father.
If a child is born outside of marriage, then paternity must be established either through voluntary acknowledgment by both parents or via court order. A voluntary acknowledgment of parentage must be notarized or witnessed, signed by both parents, and filed with the Office of Vital Records.
If paternity is challenged, typically, the matter will be resolved through the use of genetic testing. An alleged father can voluntarily submit to DNA testing, or a court can order genetic testing as part of a divorce proceeding where parentage is contested. Paternity can be established at any time after a child is born until the child reaches the age of 21.
Child Custody Issues
Usually, only legal parents can seek custody of a child. But, non-parents such as grandparents may apply for guardianship in extreme circumstances. In a divorce between a biological parent and a non-biological parent, the biological parent is almost certainly going to win custody. Until a legal declaration of parentage or adoption, or a ruling that the biological parent is legally unfit for child custody, visitation is likely the best a non-biological parent can hope for.
Child Support Factors
Nevada law guarantees children financial support. If one parent has primary physical custody, the non-custodial parent is likely to owe some amount of child support based on a variety of factors. These can include the amount of time each parent spends with the child, the respective incomes of each parent, and the needs of the child.
The child support requirement, however, applies only to legal parents. Step-parents are generally not required to pay child support, even if the party was married for a long time. The step-parent may owe alimony to their ex-spouse after a divorce, but they likely will not be ordered to pay child support unless they agree to do so.
Adoption Legal Rights
It is important to recognize that adoption creates a permanent legal bond between a parent and a child. If a step-parent adopts a child, divorcing the child’s other parent will not sever that relationship. The adoptive parent will have the right to seek custody, may owe child support, and will otherwise have all the rights and obligations of a legal parent.
Dedicated Las Vegas Divorce Attorney
Our knowledgeable Las Vegas child custody attorneys can help you deal with any paternity, custody, or other parentage questions in your Las Vegas divorce matter. Our State Bar of Nevada Board Certified divorce lawyers have years of experience handling all manner of marital law issues. We stand ready to help you defend your rights and protect your family. Our legal team is prepared to handle even the most complex and sensitive divorce issues. Both Jennifer V. Abrams and Vincent Mayo offer courtesy phone consultations at no charge. Call 702-222-4021 to speak directly with one of them about your important issues.
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