In Tennessee, the Father of a child born out of wedlock must establish paternity andchild custodythrough the Juvenile Court to obtain enforceable custodial rights to the subject child. When a child is born out of wedlock in Tennessee, and there is no court order establishing paternity andcustodythat allots parenting time to the parties,custodyis presumed to be with the Mother. It is not enough that the Father is named on the child’s birth certificate, resort must be made to theJuvenile Court.

In such a case, the Father has no right todemand visitationwith the child, and will be told by law enforcement, who are often contacted in such disputes, that it is a civil matter for which the individual will need to obtain the help of an attorney.

In most cases, paternity of the child will not be disputed as the Father’s name will be on the child’s birth certificate or the parties will have executed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, whereby the Father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate. If paternity of the child is in dispute theCourtwill order DNA testing. An important note here is that inMontgomery County, theJuvenile Courtswill almost always order that the child’s last name be changed to reflect that of the Father’s, without regard to the wishes of the Mother or other interested parties.

The Filing of A Petition To Establish Paternity & To Set A Permanent Parenting Plan Will Generally Accomplish Three Things.

First: The Father will be named the “legal” Father of the child. This is different than being named simply on the child’s birth certificate, and gives the Father legalcustody rightsto the subject child. Additionally, if the Father is not named on the child’s birth certificate, theCourtwill order the Father to be added, and that the child’s last name be changed to reflect the Father’s last name.

Second: TheCourtwill determine which parent will be the Primary Residential Parent, and will allot parenting time to the parties based on a best interest’s analysis

Third: A child support amount will be set using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines.Download a child support calculator by clicking here.

If You Have Questions Please Feel Free To Contact Our Office.

Ryan K McFarland • attorneymcfarland@gmail.com1 (​931) 516-9009

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