Paternity actions usually take place when a child is born to unmarried parents. A parent then signs a declaration of paternity to make themselves a legal parent of a child. Establishing paternity is necessary for the purposes of assigning legal responsibility for the child, or, in a divorce, for determining child custody and support matters.
Paternity actions can be taken voluntarily or by court order. The latter happens when one parents refuses to admit paternity. In that case, the court may even hold a trial to evaluate all the evidence.
Even when voluntary and uncontested, paternity actions normally require thorough knowledge of local court rules and procedures. It’s best to consult an attorney to make sure the process is done smoothly and without unnecessary delays.