When a dispute surrounding parentage arises, this can affect the lives of the mother, the father, the children, and their families forever. It is tragic when a woman claims a man is her child’s father, only to be proven wrong. Not only does it mean the mother will have to support her child alone or go through the process again with another potential father, it also means that the baby has no father.

When the baby is born, he or she will bond with those around them. Failure to bond with your infant from the beginning makes it more difficult to bond with them when they are older. If a man knows he is the father and he wants to dispute it to avoid his responsibilities, it is a complicated matter.

But, if he is not sure the child is his, he has a right to dispute parentage, it is not just about child support. You are asking him to co-parent a child. You are asking him to love that child and be part of his or her life. Yet, he will not be able to do that, until his doubts are addressed.

Who Can Dispute Parentage?

If a man is not sure he is the father of a child, he can dispute parentage. If a man or woman in a same-sex relationship is asked to agree to be the child’s parent, they can dispute it. If the partner claims that he or she never wanted to have a child or be a parent, they can dispute it.

What Can You Do?

You received the papers that the parent filed saying you are the parent of the child. Time is not on your side. You only have 30 days to respond, and if you do not, the courts will accept it as the forms were filled out.

You can dispute the action. Do not sign the papers you were sent. Contact a paternity attorney. There are many twists and turns in this legal situation. You may have been married to the mother and feel the child is not yours. In some cases, this may mean it is too late to take action.

To dispute paternity, you will need to:

• Fill out form FL-280 to request a hearing
• Fill out form FL-330 which is “Proof of Personal Service.”
• Fill out form FL-290 after the Hearing on Motion to set aside and voluntary declaration of parentage that you may have signed.

It is important to know that if your child has been getting government assistance and you are proven to be his father, they will probably come after you to repay the state. The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) may order a DNA test to verify that you are the parent. They usually do this by swabbing the inner cheek of the mother, child, and potential father. In court, the judge can order a DNA test, but there will be fees involved. Home testing from kits bought privately is not admissible in court.