A petition for paternity is an appeal for a family law court to identify a child’s biological father. Either parent may file the petition – the mother to establish child support guidelines, or the father to gain visitation rights or custody. In some jurisdictions, child services agencies may file the petition.
When approved by the court, a summons is issued to the respondent. The summons informs him or her of the date, time, and nature of the trial, which is normally at least 30 days from the time of filing. If a respondent chooses to ignore the summons, the judge may make a default judgment in favor of the petitioner without hearing any evidence from the respondent.
At the trial, the court examines all evidence and asks questions of the parties. The court may require DNA testing to clearly establish paternity. If a DNA test returns a 99 percent positive result for paternity, the court establishes the paternity of the child. When paternity is established, the father has the rights and responsibilities regarding his biological child, including visitation or custody well as the responsibility to pay child support (including delinquent payments).