Paternity in Wyoming deals with cases of children born to an unmarried couple. People often refer to these as custody cases, but custody is just a part of it. Child Support Services of Wyoming starts most paternity cases. However, individual parents can bring these actions on their own.
What is a Paternity Case?
More and more couples have children out of wedlock, even if they are in a committed relationship. Just like married couples, some of these committed unmarried couples do break up. If they have children, they should set out their rights and obligations to their children.
Children are also born as a result of extra-marital affairs or “one night stands.” These parents might not want to continue the relationship. That is all the more reason to have a court establish their rights and obligations to custody, visitation and support.
What do courts order in a paternity action?
In paternity actions, courts adjudicate paternity, if necessary. They also determine and make orders on legal custody, physical custody, child support, and visitation.
Adjudicating Paternity in Wyoming
In some paternity case, the court must adjudicate paternity. This is the process of legally establishing the identity of a child’s father. This does not need to be done if the father has executed an acknowledgement of paternity.
Often there is no dispute about the identity of the father. However, the father is not listed on the birth certificate. His name can be added with the adjudication of paternity.
When paternity is disputed, the court will order genetic testing. This is a formal procedure. It is not a paternity test kit you pick up at a drug store.
Once the issue of paternity is resolved, the court will move on to custody, support and visitation.
Legal custody refers to basic parental rights. Things like the right to participate in decisions about a child’s medical issues. The right to the children’s educational records. The right to attend parent teacher conferences. Legal custody allows a parent to help raise their child.
When establishing paternity in Wyoming, most courts will award joint legal custody to the parents. Some exceptions occur, such as when a parent has been found to abuse or molest the children.
Physical custody refers to where the child lives. There are three differend versions of physical custody. The most common is where one of the parents has primary physical custody and the other parent has visitation. However, there are also shared physical custody arrangements, as well as split physical custody arrangements.
Child support is ordered in all paternity cases, unless the parents live together. The amount of support is based on the net income of the parents, and the type of custody arrangement.
If one parent has primary phsysical custody, then the other parent pays support to the parent with primary physical custody. Where there is shared physical custody, the parent that makes the most money pays suppport to the other parent. In cases of split custody, the number of children living with each parent will determine the support amount.
While its great if parents can work out visitation terms between themselves, conflicts will surely arise during the eighteen or so years it takes to raise a child. That is why it is very important to establish visitation rights.
Visitation rights are determined on a case by case basis. However, there are standard visitation terms in each Wyoming county. These standard terms can be, and usually are, modified to fit the unique situation and needs of the parents, and their children.
How can we help?
At WYeLawyers, we can help you with the entire paternity action. We can also help you file an answer, request a paternity test, complete the financial affidavit, or consult on visitation terms. So take the next step, and call us at 307-382-5545 to schedule a consultation.
By Steve Harton