Children and parents have an interest in identifying paternity. Most often, the mother's husband is considered the child's father, and there is no paternity dispute. However, some circumstances require a paternity test.
If a mother is not married and was not married during the 300 days before giving birth, paternity may be established by filing an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit. This affidavit needs to be signed by the mother and father in the presence of witnesses, and it must be notarized. A DNA test is not required if the mother was unmarried during the 300 days before giving birth or at the time of the child's birth and if no one else is listed as the child's father on the child's birth certificate.
Without a DNA test, legal paternity, also known as paternal filiation, may be uncertain. The child's mother may commit paternity fraud and convince a man that he is the child's father even though the mother knows that is not true.
Paternity Fraud Has Consequences
If you are identified as a child's legal father, you may have child support obligations while you are alive, and your child may have inheritance rights after you die. If paternal filiation was established during the father's life and not successfully contested, the child may be a(n):
- Forced heir. Children under the age of 24 or adult children with mental or physical disabilities may be forced heirs in Louisiana. If you die with one forced heir, the child may inherit one-fourth of your estate. If you die with multiple forced heirs, together the children may inherit up to one-half of your estate.
- Intestate beneficiary. If you die with a child (or children) but no spouse, your children inherit all of your property. Even if you are married at the time of your death, your spouse will maintain a usufruct right in the community property to use for your spouse's lifetime, and then the community property will pass to your children. Additionally, all of your separate property will pass to your children.
Paternity fraud can complicate estates and result in estate litigation. Our experienced Louisiana estate litigation lawyers encourage you to contact us if you have concerns about paternity filiation and how it may impact your inheritance. Please contact us today to learn more.