The specific process of filing a paternity action can vary per state. However, in most states, the mother or alleged father can file a paternity action to start the legal process.
The case will typically start with the filing party completing paperwork with the court and paying a filing fee. Papers regarding the lawsuit will be served to the other party. That person has a set amount of time to respond to the complaint. A court date will be set.
An agreement can be reached before the court date if both parents agree to the legal paternity and sign a consent order. The court will typically adopt that order as the final order.
The case will be presented before a judge if an agreement isn’t reached before the court date.
Both parties must show up on the court date. If the alleged father does not appear, the judge can choose a default judgment — making him the legal father.
The court may also order a genetic test to help establish paternity.
In some states, paternity cannot be legally determined before the child is born. However, the legal process can often start before the child’s birth.