Paternity

North Carolina law provides a mechanism to establish paternity when a child is born to unmarried parents. The action to establish paternity must be filed before the child’s eighteenth birthday and no action can be initiated after the death of the suspected father of the child except in special circumstances regarding the putative father’s estate.

In the event that a proceeding to establish paternity is brought more than three years after the birth of the child out of wedlock or after the death of the putative father, paternity must be established by a blood or genetic marker test. The results of blood or genetic tests shall constitute clear, cogent, and convincing evidence of paternity if the tests show that the probability of the alleged parent’s parentage is ninety-seven percent (97%) or higher. If paternity is not thereafter established, then the putative father shall be reimbursed the full amount of temporary support paid under the order. When paternity has been established, the father becomes responsible for medical expenses incident to the pregnancy and the birth of the child.

The establishment of paternity shall not have the effect of legitimation. Once paternity is established, the rights, duties and obligations of both parents for the support of the child can be determined and enforced as if the child were the legitimate child of the parents

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