Under North Carolina law, a child born to married parents is the legal and legitimate child of both parents. If the parents are unmarried, both parents can voluntarily sign an “Affidavit of Parentage” and file the affidavit with the North Carolina Vital Records. Courts may also order paternity based on the results of DNA tests. If the unmarried father does not voluntarily acknowledge paternity, then he does not have to pay child support.
Establishing paternity creates a legal duty for fathers to support their children. The legal presumption that the husband is the father of a child born during wedlock is rebuttable with paternity testing. Under North Carolina law, either parent can rescind an affidavit of parentage within 60 days of signing it, but until a court orders the rescission, both parents are obligated to continue supporting the child.
To order a putative or alleged father to submit to a DNA or paternity test, the child’s mother can retain an attorney to help her draft an order or she may request help from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. North Carolina law requires mothers, putative fathers and the child to submit to testing once a court orders paternity testing.
DNA Test Results
Under North Carolina law, the results of the paternity test must show at least an 85 percent probability of paternity. If the result shows less than an 85 percent probability of paternity, then the state law presumes he is not the child’s biological father. However, the child’s mother can rebut the results with clear and convincing evidence of paternity such as opportunity. Results that show an 85 to 97 percent probability of paternity does not automatically prove paternity. The court will consider other relevant and credible evidence from both parties to dispute or in support of paternity. If the results show a 97 percent probability, then under North Carolina law, the presumption is that the putative father is the biological father of the child. To refute the results, he must be able to provide clear and convincing evidence that he is not the father.
North Carolina law presumes that a child born during marriage is the legitimate child of both parents. The state will automatically list the father’s surname on the child’s birth certificate, and the child will have his surname. However, legitimization also occurs when parents were unmarried but subsequently married after their child’s birth. In this case, a new birth certificate will list him as the father, if necessary.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.