Paternity Suit Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Paternity Suit, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Paternity Suit?

It is a lawsuit filed generally filed by the unwed mother of a child against the unwed father of the same child to prove that he is the father of the child. It leads to medical tests like blood test, DNA test, comparison of looks, sexual relationships etc and once proven the father also needs to offer monetory support for the child right from birth. In some states of US, such proceedings are criminal in nature.

History and Meaning of Paternity Suit

A paternity suit is a legal action taken by a mother or child against a man to establish that he is the biological father. The father is liable to provide financial support for the child and is granted visitation or custody rights. The term is used across the United States and other countries to describe legal claims to establish the identity of a child's father.

Paternity suits first gained attention in the 20th century when the increased mobility of populations and social changes made it possible for people to have more sexual relationships than before. With new medical advances such as blood typing and DNA testing, it became easier to prove who the father of a child was. By the late 20th century, paternity suits became more common and were recognized under the law as a way to determine who should bear the financial responsibility for a child.

Examples of Paternity Suit

  1. Jane filed a paternity suit naming John as the father of her child and sought child support.

  2. The man filed a paternity suit to establish that he was not the father of the child as the mother claimed.

  3. After DNA testing established paternity, the court ordered the father to pay retroactive and ongoing child support in the paternity suit.

Legal Terms Similar to Paternity Suit

  1. Child Support: A payment made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help cover expenses for raising the child.

  2. Visitation: The right granted to a non-custodial parent to visit the child.

  3. Custody: The right to physical and legal control of a child.

  4. Child Custody Agreement: An agreement made outside of court between parents about the custody (physical and legal) and visitation of a child.

  5. Child Custody Order: A legally enforceable court order that decides who will have physical and/or legal custody of a child.