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How Can Unmarried Fathers Establish Paternity Rights in Nebraska?

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Establishing Paternity in Nebraska as an Unmarried Father

In Nebraska, if a father is not married to the mother when a child is born, there are 3 ways paternity can be established: 1) By signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity in front of a notary; 2) By filing a Complaint to Establish Paternity before the child is 4 years old; or 3) If a next friend or the State of Nebraska files to establish paternity (can be done until child is 18 years old).

Acknowledgment of Paternity

The Acknowledgement of Paternity is a voluntary and formal legal document that unmarried parents can use to establish the biological relationship between the father and the child. This process is relatively simple and is most often initiated at the hospital when the child is born. The mother and the alleged father must complete and sign the form. The signatures must be witnessed and notarized. Ensuring that all information provided is accurate and matches the details on the child’s birth certificate is crucial. Once the form is completed and signed, it is filed with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Hospitals often do this automatically. By signing the Acknowledgment of Paternity, the alleged father acknowledges that he is the biological parent of the child. This recognition allows the father to exercise parental rights, including visitation and custody.

The mother or alleged father may rescind (take back) their statements on the acknowledgment form. Either party has 60 days from the signing of the form to make a rescission. This must be done in writing or at a legal hearing. If the Acknowledgement is not rescinded, the document becomes legal, and paternity is established. It may only be disputed in court if there was fraud, coercion, or admission of a mistake of fact (for example, if mother lied about potential other biological fathers). Note that an Acknowledgment of Paternity may never be set aside if the signing father knew there was a chance he was not the biological father at the time he signed.

Legal Action

Legal action is necessary to establish paternity if no Acknowledgment is signed. Court proceedings related to paternity seek to establish, contest, or address issues surrounding the biological relationship between a father and a child. These proceedings are often initiated when there is a paternity dispute or when unmarried parents seek legal recognition of the father’s rights (such as custody and visitation) and responsibilities (such as child support). Either parent can initiate a paternity case in court up until the child’s fourth birthday. If the child is 4 years and 1 day old, the filing must be made differently (such as by the State of Nebraska or a “next friend” or guardian of the child).

Filing a paternity case begins when the Plaintiff (the person initiating the case) files a Complaint with the appropriate court. Then notice must be given to the Defendant or other parties involved.

Paternity DNA Testing

If there is any dispute or uncertainty about paternity, either parent can request a paternity test. Paternity DNA testing is a highly accurate and reliable scientific method used to determine the biological relationship between a man and a child. All parties involved must provide informed consent to undergo paternity DNA testing or a court order may be obtained if one party will not test voluntarily. Testing must occur with a recognized DNA lab, not a home test, to be legally admissible in court. If the test confirms the biological relationship between the alleged father and the child, it can be used as evidence in legal proceedings to establish paternity.

Court Orders

Once paternity is legally established, the court can issue parental rights and responsibilities orders. This may include child support only (such as cases filed by State of Nebraska on behalf of the minor child) or determining custody arrangements for legal and physical custody, parenting time schedules, and child support obligations. Note that for child support cases or contempt for non-payment of support, parents may be entitled to court-appointed counsel if they cannot afford to hire their own attorney. However, in Nebraska, a parent may never have court appointed counsel to handle custody or parenting time issues before the court.

GordenLaw, LCC Provides Experienced Guidance in Paternity Cases

An experienced family law attorney can serve as your advocate, representing your interests and negotiating on your behalf. When necessary, attorneys can also help the Court understand your family and have the best information to make decisions about custody, parenting time and support. Having a lawyer helps you achieve the best possible outcome. Don’t navigate the complexities of a paternity, support, or custody case alone. Take the first step toward resolving your paternity case with confidence. Call GordenLaw, LCC, at 402-817-1450 to schedule a consultation. Our legal team is ready to advise and advocate for you!

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