At our law firm, we represent mothers and fathers in paternity disputes that may involve a variety of circumstances. Nebraska law creates specific ways to establish legal fatherhood, depending on the situation surrounding a child’s birth.
We know that no matter the details, all parties involved in a paternity matter are likely emotional and stressed. We help our clients understand all their options and the corresponding pros and cons. We will facilitate a negotiated solution if possible but will advocate for our client in the courtroom, if necessary.
Some options under Nebraska paternity law have deadlines, so speak to a lawyer at once to understand any deadlines you may want to meet. It is also smart to get legal counsel before taking any legal step that would establish or deny paternity so that you understand all ramifications beforehand.
Parenthood during a marriage or through adoption
When a baby is born during a legal marriage, there is an automatic presumption that the husband is the legal father, but that presumption can be legally challenged. Legal fatherhood can also be established through adoption.
Unmarried parents may establish paternity by signing together under oath an official state Acknowledgment of Paternity form, called an AOP, before a notary public (an official who acknowledges the signatures). By signing, both parties are stating that the man is the biological father.
Either party can rescind an AOP within 60 days and if no court has ordered one of them to pay child support. After that, a party can only challenge the AOP if there has been fraud, duress or mistake of fact.
Paternity by court order
When no paternity is established for a child through marriage, adoption or an AOP, the remaining option is a paternity suit in Nebraska state court, in which paternity testing may be ordered. A father in most circumstances has until the child turn four to file a paternity action, but the state, the mother or a guardian may do so until the child reaches legal adulthood at 18.
Significance of paternity
Paternity comes with rights and responsibilities. The father will have the irreplaceable experience of a parent-child relationship and all that comes with that for both parties. He can seek sole or joint custody (physical or legal) and visitation (parenting time) and he may be required to pay child support, child care costs and health care expenses.
The child gets the opportunity to know the father’s extended family and their culture and traditions. In addition, the child may get other benefits through their father like inheritance rights, health insurance eligibility, Social Security benefits and others.