Paternity – Mobile Alabama

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This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law applicable to an action to establish Paternity in the State of Alabama, but does include basic and other provisions.

What is an action for “Paternity or Parentage”? An action filed under the Uniform Parentage Act is called a “paternity” case. The goal of a paternity case is to establish whether a person is or is not a natural parent of a child and, if parentage is established, to determine how the child will be parented and who should help pay for the support of the child.

When may an action for Paternity be brought in Alabama under the Uniform Parentage Act? If any of the children was conceived in Alabama or any of the presumed or alleged fathers reside in Alabama then you may proceed under the UPA and all proceedings take place in the Alabama courts.

Where may an action for Paternity be filed in the State of Alabama An action brought under the Alabama Uniform Parentage Act may be brought in the county in which the child resides, the mother resides, or the alleged father resides or is found or, if the father is deceased, in which proceedings for probate of his estate have been or could be commenced. It may also be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides if the mother, child, or alleged father don’t reside in the state.

Who may bring an action or parentage? A child, or guardian ad litem of the child, the child’s natural mother, whether married or unmarried at the time the child was conceived, or her personal representative or parent if the mother has died; or a man alleged or alleging himself to be the natural father, or his personal representative or parent if the father has died; or a presumed father as defined in the Act, or his personal representative or parent if the presumed father has died; or the child support enforcement agency, may bring an action for the purpose of declaring the existence or nonexistence of the father and child relationship.

Who represents the interests of the child(ren)? The child may be made a party to the action and may be represented by the child’s general guardian or a guardian ad litem appointed by the court. The child’s mother or father shall not represent the child as guardian or otherwise.

Are there time limits to the filing of an action to establish parentage? (a) Except as provided in subsection (b) a proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of a child having no presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father may be commenced at any time, even after:

(1) the child becomes an adult, but only if the child initiates the proceeding; or

(2) an earlier proceeding to adjudicate paternity has been dismissed based on the application of a statute of limitation then in effect.

(b) An action to determine paternity for the purposes of obtaining support shall not be brought after the child obtains age 19, unless otherwise provided by law.

A presumed father may bring an action to disprove paternity at any time.

What are the jurisdictional prerequisites to filing an action for parentage in the Alabama courts? The jurisdiction of the juvenile or family court division of the district or circuit is very broad. Basically, A person who resides in the State of Alabama or has sexual intercourse in the State of Alabama thereby submits to the jurisdiction of the courts of the State of Alabama as to an action for paternity brought under this chapter with respect to a child who may have been conceived by that act of intercourse.

Under what circumstances are certain individuals “presumed” to be the father of the minor child(ren)? A man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if:

1. The child is born within 300 days of the termination of a valid marriage or a marriage that was, in fact, invalid but the parties were acting as though the marriage was valid.

2. After the child’s birth, the father and the child’s natural mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and, either, (a) the father acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing filed with the department of health; or (b) with his consent, he is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate; or (c) the father is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order; or (d), while the child is under the age of majority, the alleged father receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child; or (e), parentage is established by genetic testing; or (f) the father executes a voluntary, written acknowledgment of paternity of the child signed by him under oath which is filed with the department of health.

If an action to determine parentage is filed, can the Petitioner and custodial parent receive court ordered support prior to the actual determination of parentage? Yes,if appropriate, the court may order temporary support payments from a presumed father of the child, a man petitioning to have his paternity adjudicated, a man identified as the father through genetic testing, an alleged father who has declined to submit to genetic testing, shown by clear and convincing evidence to be the father of the child, or the mother of the child.

Will the parties be required to submit to genetic testing? The court will order the child and other designated individuals to submit to genetic testing if the request for testing is made by a party to the proceeding, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, or the representative of the child. If a request for genetic testing of a child is made before birth, the court or the Alabama Department of Human Resources may not order in-utero testing.

Who performs the genetic tests? The laboratory performing the testing shall be one approved by the American Association of Blood Banks American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, or their successors, or an accreditation body designated by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

If a man is determined to be the father of the child(ren), is he obligated to support the child? He would then have the same duty to support the minor child as he would and child he fathered where the issue of parentage was not raised.

If an action to determine parentage is filed and it is determined that a certain individual is the father of the minor child(ren) and that determination contradicts the child’s birth certificate will the birth certificate be changed? Yes, upon the order of a court in Alabama, or any other state, a new birth certificate will be issued reflecting the father as established in the court order.

Can this procedure be used to establish the mother – child relationship? Yes, any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship.