adoptions, name change and paternity/legitimation

Relative Adoptions
There are multiple different circumstances where parents may not be able to provide for their children with the proper care and nourishment. In these cases, it is often best for the parent and the child if the child was placed with a different caregiver. These caregivers are many times relatives such as grandparents, aunts or uncles, adult siblings, or cousins. Unfortunately, many relatives are raising children without the legal authority they need to make decisions for them and to protect their safe living situation. If a caregiver does not have proper legal authority, the parents could remove the child from the security of the only home they know.

McSpadden Law knows that life can be complicated, so we are here to assist in adoption legal issues while you focus on taking care of the child. Malcolm McSpadden, an experienced attorney, will help you through the process in order to provide the child with the protection and care they need. Adoption is a permanent decision and provides complete security.

Relative Adoptions Requirements
Adoptions can be complicated, just like any other legal matter. Adopting a child who is related to you has the same steps as a normal adoption, with the exception that your home may not be studied first. In North Carolina, a home study is not required if you are the child’s grandparent, full or half-sibling, first cousin, aunt or uncle, great aunt or uncle, or great grandparent.

Name Changes
If you are looking to have your name changed following a marriage, divorce, or out of the desire to change your birth name, the process of doing so can be done through a special legal proceeding. Name changes are governed by statute and require certain procedures to be followed. To become effective, name changes also depend on the age and reason for the change. To expedite and ensure accuracy in the process, consult with Attorney Malcolm McSpadden.

In the world today, people build families in many different ways. It is not uncommon for people to have children outside of marriage. If this situation occurs, both parents must play a role in supporting their child. This includes financial and emotional support. In some circumstances, only one parent is cooperative, and the legal system has to intervene to establish legitimation and paternity. McSpadden Law can provide knowledgeable representation in all paternity matters. Attorney Malcolm McSpadden has years of experience and can work with you in obtaining the best outcome for your specific case.

What are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity?
In North Carolina, a father might not be granted parental rights automatically if the child is born out of wedlock. The father may want to establish paternity as the biological father to gain legal rights as a parent. Legal and parental rights will allow the father to have a part in decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, including living location, education, medical care, and religion. Furthermore, establishing paternity may also provide the opportunity for child custody or visitation.

Often times the mother of the child also wants the father to establish paternity in order for their child to receive support or health insurance. It can also make the child eligible to inherit property or assets from their father.

How does a Father Establish Paternity in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, when an unmarried couple has a child, they can sign an affidavit of parentage. In these cases, both parents acknowledge the birth of their child and that they are the parents. When the father signs, he affirms that he is the biological and legal father of the child and therefore his name is placed on the birth certificate. The mother will have custody, but the father may ask for custody in a court order.

The North Carolina G.S. Chapter 49 14 allows a mother or father to file a paternity action to establish the identity of a child’s father if the parents are not married. A DNA test is typically used to determine paternity and all parties are required to participate. Genetic testing is non-invasion and usually done with a mouth swab. These tests are highly reliable, and the court recognizes paternity if the test results show at least 97% certainty. For the biological father to gain full legal rights, he must marry the mother or file a legitimation petition.

What if my child’s father refuses to acknowledge paternity? What if my child’s mother refuses to let me take a DNA test?
If the mother or the father refuses to acknowledge paternity, the court will not recognize any paternal obligations unless one party files a paternity action.

Filing a Legitimation Petition in North Carolina
Legitimation is different from paternity. Legitimation involves the legal status of the child, where establishing paternity does not legitimate a child. When a child is legitimated, paternity is no longer an issue. The differences between legitimation and paternity include:

  • Legitimation is a civil proceeding. Paternity can be civil to establish parentage or a criminal order for non-support.
  • Legitimation petitions can be filed at any time during the child’s life. Paternity actions may have specific time frames in which they can be filed.
  • Paternity actions do not legitimize a child. In contrast, legitimation actions establish paternity.

A father may decide to legitimize his child if the child was born out of wedlock and the couple does not marry, or if the mother was married to someone other than the biological father at the time of the child’s birth.

If you have any questions about relative adoption, name changes, or establishing paternity and legitimation, contact McSpadden Law. Attorney Malcolm McSpadden is experienced and can provide assistance.