Both men and women must concern themselves with Kentucky paternity laws. Visitation, support, and custody orders begin with identifying and establishing parental rights. While it is not necessary that these matters be addressed together, they often are, and mothers and fathers are reminded that with rights, comes responsibility.

Paternity actions can be initiated by individuals on their own behalf, or as a result of a custodial parent obtaining state financial support, like K-Tap. In order to obtain support, parents are normally required to identify the child's other parent, and, if no support order is in place, Kentucky child support regulations will require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to seek a contribution from the non-paying parent. Of course, this parent must first be identified and established by entry of a Judgment of Paternity.

Kentucky law presumes that a child born during a marriage is the child of the married couple. When paternity is in doubt, either party may request or the Court may order a DNA test. The test is non-invasive, and will normally exclude an individual, or return results in the ninety-ninth percentile, indicating a virtually conclusive match.

If paternity is established before the child's fourth birthday, the child's father may become responsible for child support retroactive to birth, plus medical expenses. This can result in extremely large accrued arrearages in child support that spring into existence. This is the case even though the eventual father may not have anticipated or known that he could be held responsible for these expenses.

Once established, a father has a right to a relationship with the child. What this relationship develops into, how and under what circumstances it will begin, are dependent entirely upon the circumstances of each individual case. The Court will always be guided by the principal that it must do what it is determined is in the best interests of the child. Developing a visitation case with a newly discovered father is difficult and requires determination, staying power, and understanding. The Court will consider not only the newly established legal relationship that it must acknowledge, but the consistency with which the parties choose to assert their rights. The Court expects that both parties to take advantage of each visitation opportunity faithfully.

The law of parental rights is the building block of a lifetime of cooperation or struggle for parties and their new children. Parents concerned about consequences of actions available to them are strongly advised to seek advise before doing something that may be ineffective in producing the desired result, and have unforeseen and unfortunate consequences.


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