Paternity & Child Support
Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
Unless and until a person is established
legally as the biological father of a child, he has few rights. He cannot
enforce a parenting schedule, make legal decisions related to the child's
paternity proceeding may be brought at any time after the birth of a child.
Under Wisconsin law, there are several ways that
paternity may be legally established.
- Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment.
Paternity is presumed if the child was born during a marriage. The husband
is presumed to be the father unless and until that paternity is disproven.
After the birth of your baby, unmarried
fathers and mothers can sign a form that will make sure the father's name is
put on the birth certificate and make him the legal father. The form is
called the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment.
This form can be obtained from the hospital when your baby is born. You may
acquire the form at any time after the child's birth from the child support
agency or register of deeds office in your county. The form must signed
before a notary public and returned to the Vital Records Office in Madison,
Stipulations and Order. Both the
mother and father may agree to establish paternity by signing a legal
agreement that is recorded with the county. The agreement will adjudicate
paternity and may determine legal custody and/or physical placement and
visitation schedules as well. set child support obligations. To be binding,
the agreement must also be incorporated into a Court order.
Contested Paternity Proceedings. If
the parents cannot reach an agreement on issues of paternity, Summons and
Complaint may be drafted and served commencing a contested paternity
action. As part of this paternity process, the purported father may request
genetic blood testing to determine whether or not he has been excluded as
the father of the child. Generally, the child support agency will initially pay
for the genetic testing. If the testing establishes a high probability that
the man is the father, the Court may order the father to pay for a portion
of the test costs. Wisconsin
Sections 767.51(3) and 767.62(4) requires that a court to decide
all issues, including custody and placement, in the final
adjudication of paternity.
Paternity and Child Support. In recent
years there has been a major change in Wisconsin's Paternity statutes. In years
predating 2000, child support could be made retroactive to the date of the
child's birth no matter how old the child was at the time the paternity action
was commenced. Currently,
767.51(4) and 767.62(4m) of Wisconsin statutes limit retroactive child
support awards to the date of filing the paternity action.
It is important to recognize the magnitude of
this change. It effectively reverses the 1997 Wisconsin Court of Appeals case,
In re the Paternity of Brad Michael L., where 15 years of
retroactive child support were awarded despite the fact the mother had denied
paternity to the child’s father. There are exceptions to this ruling. In some
circumstance child support may predate the commencement of the paternity action
if there was a delay in commencing the paternity action because of threats,
promises, or representations, by the father that the mother relied on or if the
father evaded service to avoid the commencement of paternity proceedings
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