How to Establish Paternity in Wisconsin

When the parents of a child are not married at the beginning of the pregnancy or at the birth of the child, the father legally does not have the rights and responsibilities of a parent. Paternity is the legal relationship between a father and his child when he is not married to the mother of the child. Our Wisconsin family law firm provides paternity law legal advice and guidance for these cases.

Establishing Paternity

In Wisconsin, there are several ways that paternity can be established.

  1. VPA: One way this can be done is by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VPA). This is usually done at the time of the child’s birth. The VPA is a legal document and legally establishes the paternity of the child. It should be noted that the VPA does not establish child support, custody or placement. A court hearing, or settlement agreement, is still needed to establish custodial and placement rights as well as child support.
  2. Genetic Testing: Genetic tests can be completed either by a swab test or a blood test if either party has a question regarding paternity. A court uses the test results to rule on paternity if the test shows a 99% or greater probability of fatherhood.
  3. Marital Presumption: If the child is born or conceived while the parents are married, the man is legally assumed to be the father of the child. The marital presumption can be overcome if a genetic testing result shows another man has a 99% or greater probability of being the father.

Placing the father’s name on the birth certificate does not legally establish him as the father of the child. Until paternity is legally established, the father legally has no rights to the child. This means that he is not obligated to pay child support and does not have any rights to custody and/or placement of the child.

FAQs about Paternity Law

If I have the VPA form from the hospital, is that all I need?

The VPA does not establish child support, custody or placement. A court hearing, or settlement agreement, is still needed to establish custodial and placement rights as well as child support.

If the father and mother are not married, what rights does the father have during pregnancy?

During pregnancy of an unmarried couple, until paternity can be established either by a DNA test or an acknowledgment of paternity, an alleged father does not have any legal rights to the child.

What is the benefit of establishing paternity?

There are benefits to the child and benefits to the parents. The child receives financial support from both parents, including child support, social security and inheritance; medical and life insurance from both parents, among other benefits.

Once paternity is established, either parent can petition for child support, custody and/or visitation rights. If joint legal custody is awarded, both parents will be able to participate in major decisions about the child, including their health, education and religion.

What if Paternity is being challenged?

If paternity is being challenged, the Court will order a Guardian ad Litem. A Guardian ad Litem represents the best interests of the child. The Guardian ad Litem will make a recommendation as to the placement schedule that is in the child’s best interests.

Paternity Law Cases in Wisconsin

Renier Hotopp Law Offices, LLC is here to provide support throughout paternity cases in Wisconsin. For help establishing paternity or responding to a paternity law action, submit our online form, call us at (262) 977-7717 to schedule a consult or email: [email protected]