Cedar Rapids Paternity Attorneys
Beyond the concerns of how your divorce will affect you personally, you are also concerned about how your divorce will affect your children. As a parent, your primary concern is for the well-being of your child. Many times, the establishment of paternity will play an important role in determining who will keep custody of the child, the assurance of child support, and who will pay child support. You or your spouse may be prevented from seeing and supporting your child without the proper paternity determination.
Perhaps your spouse has declared that you are not the legal parent of your child and wants to prevent you from visiting the child. Perhaps you are not the biological father of the child and want to de-establish paternity and the accompanying obligation of child support. Perhaps the mother of the child insists that you are the legal father in the hopes of obtaining child support. There are many complicated issues regarding paternity, and the associated laws can be difficult to navigate.
If you want to change your paternity status, it is important to work with a divorce attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. At Arenson Law Group, PC, our Cedar Rapids paternity lawyers are committed to helping you work through these issues. Contact us today at (319) 363-8199 so we can help you with your case.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
Even though Iowa law dictates that the mother and the father have equal rights regarding the child, it is important that you know exactly what that means in your situation. The intricate details of the law can be complicated to understand. In order to make the process less stressful, you will need a knowledgeable paternity attorney who fully understands Iowa family law.
For example, establishing paternity is an important determination that will decide whether or not you will be entitled to have visitation or custody of your child. Paternity entitles you and your child to several rights, including the rights to
- Enforce visitation and custody rights
- Participate in decisions regarding the upbringing of your child (i.e. religion, medical care, schooling, etc.)
- Provide insurance coverage for the child
- Provide the child with benefits in the case of your disability/death
- Receive notice of any adoption proceedings
- Get access to medical histories.
However, paternity also obligates the father to pay child support if he does not have custody of the child and the child’s other parent requests it. Because of these considerations, there are a variety of situations in which a person would either want to establish or deestablish paternity.
Often this process requires genetic testing, providing affidavits, and/or filing declarations of paternity. Also, many times there are short windows in which certain notices must be responded to or documents must be provided. If you miss those deadlines, it can jeopardize your ability to establish or deestablish paternity.
You need professional paternity legal counsel that informs you of your rights and advises you of the easiest way to determine paternity, warns you of possible mistakes, and helps you file any necessary declarations.
Why Choose Arenson Law Group, PC?
At Arenson Law Group, PC, we have decades of experience with successfully handling family law cases, including paternity determination in divorce cases in Cedar Rapids. Our lawyers are proud members of the Linn County Bar Association, the Iowa State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. Members of our team have even served on US District Courts.
Read our client testimonials and you’ll see that we offer the highest standard of professional, competent services—in fact, we pride ourselves on our forward-thinking and progressive approach to family law.
We understand how important it is to establish paternity, especially in order to get custody or to decide child support. We have comprehensive knowledge of Iowa paternity, divorce, and family law and we’ll provide much more than just cookie-cutter solutions for your case.
In complicated and delicate family law situations where there might be other people involved, it is important for you to have competent representation to accurately and effectively advocate for your interests. Arenson Law Group, PC will find the best way to establish paternity and to get the custody, visitation, or child support you want.
When your case deals with your relationship with your child, you can’t trust your case to an inexperienced or apathetic lawyer. You need a lawyer who understands the law, has handled cases like yours, and who cares about you and your family. You need someone who will listen to you and who will work hard to make sure that your interests are fully represented.
How Paternity is Established
Being the legal father of a child is not the same as being the biological father of a child. A legal father has an additional list of rights and responsibilities that a biological father alone does not. If you were not already listed as the legal father at the time of your divorce, you must establish paternity in order to be considered the child’s legal father.
Iowa establishes paternity based on the following:
- Being married to the child’s mother at time of birth: If you are married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth, you are automatically that child’s legal father.
- Being the biological father: Perhaps you were married at the time of the child’s birth, but you are not the biological father. The law requires that you are the legal father and must pay child support. Or perhaps you want custody of the child and want to prove that you are the biological father. Genetic testing can determine the likelihood that you are or are not the biological father by collecting a tissue sample from both you and the child (usually by using a cotton swab) and performing a DNA sequencing test. The test must be performed in a laboratory that is accredited by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The test will either determine that it is impossible for you to be the father, or it will indicate that there is a 99.8% likelihood that you are. By taking a genetic test that results in above 95% likelihood that you are the father, you can prove paternity. If the results are below 95%, you can deestablish paternity.
- Providing an affidavit or agreement: If you were not married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth, both you and the mother must sign an affidavit to agree on the paternity of the child (an affidavit is a sworn statement signed in the presence of a public notary). If the affidavit is not canceled within 60 days of signature, then you are the legal father of the child and will be entitled to see your child.
If your paternity status is questioned, you can file a declaration of paternity. During this process you will be required to provide one of the above evidences to the court (according to Iowa Code 252A.3A).
If the mother with custody of the child wants to ensure that the father pays child support after a divorce, she might appeal to Iowa’s Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU). The CSRU will investigate whether the divorced man is the legal father and will also seek to provide one of the above evidences. It’s possible that the mother will contest the outcome of a test or the validity of an affidavit, in which case the father might be subject to additional testing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions about how child support, custody, and visitation rights are established after a divorce. The issue is complicated, so we know you might have more questions. Don’t make guesses when the stakes are high, call us today at (319) 363-8199 for any additional questions you might have.
What if I was married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, but I am not the child’s biological father?
If you were married at the time of the child’s birth, you are considered the legal father and will be responsible for helping to provide for the child unless you get a court to “deestablish” paternity. This is the case even if you are not the biological father of the child.
To deestablish paternity, you must file a case with the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU). The CSRU will require you to provide evidence by genetic testing to prove that you are not the biological father. If the results from your genetic test come back less than 95% positive, all charges for child support will be dropped (although previous payments will not be reimbursed).
Keep in mind that while deestablishing paternity frees you from the obligation of child support, it might also result in you losing rights to see and visit the child.
Who is considered a “child?”
By Iowa law, a child is anyone under the age of 18 or an individual over 18 who is still completing high school before they are 19. If the dependents in your case fall into this category, one of the divorced spouses will likely be required to pay child support.
What is a “default order?”
The CSRU will send a notice to both spouses in the divorce, giving them the opportunity to change paternity status if they so choose. If a man does not respond to the notice within 20 days, the court will assume that he is the father and the man will lose any opportunity to deestablish paternity. He will be required to pay child support in what is known as a “default order.” In some cases, he might also be required to pay for the pregnancy and hospitalization during birth for the mother.
Contact a Paternity Lawyer in Cedar Rapids Today
Your paternity status has a direct and dramatic impact on the stability of any children involved in your divorce. It will also impact your financial status and your ability to visit or have custody of your children. There are many ways to lose opportunities to change your paternity status, so don’t leave it to chance. You need an attorney who will work diligently for your interests.
The Cedar Rapids paternity lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC can represent you during your divorce, child custody, or child support case. Contact us at (319) 363-8199 today so we can help you with your paternity case.