How do I establish my parental rights if the mother of my child moved to Utah before the baby was born?
We were never married, the child doesn’t have my last name and I need to know about paternity test laws between states.
Paternity statutes (laws) vary from state to state. In New Mexico, we have something called the New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act. In our state, a person can file a petition to determine parentage to resolve the paternity issue.
In New Mexico, a parent who has not signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity can still be adjudicated as the child’s parent, and a new birth certificate can be issued to reflect the child’s new last name. Sometimes, paternity cases require genetic testing to determine paternity and courts have the power to order genetic testing.
In New Mexico, we can also resolve custody and visitation issues in a paternity case. Our law dictates where a paternity case must be filed. Likewise, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) has been adopted by almost all states (the lone exception being Massachusetts). Generally speaking, a state can make an initial child custody determination if that state is the child’s “home state.”
In New Mexico, the court has jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination if the child has been living in New Mexico for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of a petition. Consider this example: If a child lives in New Mexico for the first 3 months of the child’s life and then the child is moved out of New Mexico with the other parent, New Mexico would arguably have jurisdiction to enter a child custody order because the child has not lived in the other State for six months. There are exceptions; however, this is a general rule.
Paternity and child custody jurisdiction issues can become complex, so I would advise you to consult a local domestic relations attorney to advise you on how to best proceed.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than general divorce tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”