When Can You File a Paternity Lawsuit in Nevada?
A detailed Nevada statute governs a court action relating to parentage, which is also referred to as a paternity lawsuit. The judge can decide matters relating to child custody, visitation, and child support in a paternity action. This article explains the basic principles that apply. If you consider filing a paternity lawsuit, or an action is filed against you, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is strongly recommended.
Who Can File a Paternity Lawsuit?
Under Nevada law, both biological parents of a child have legal rights and obligations. The obligations include payment of child support. The rights relate to custody and visitation matters.
There are several different ways that a Nevada court can address paternity issues: A party can request a paternity determination as part of an action for divorce, annulment, or child support. In addition, the parentage statute permits a child, child’s natural mother, person presumed or alleged to be the child’s father, or an interested third party to file a paternity lawsuit in Nevada. An interested party may also request that a Nevada district attorney file a lawsuit to determine the paternity of a child.
A Nevada court has jurisdiction to determine parentage if the child was conceived in the state. It is not necessary for the parties to live in the state. A paternity lawsuit may be filed in the county where the mother, child, or alleged father resides.
A parentage action must be filed within three years after a child reaches the age of 18 years. A statute of limitations applies, which disallows an action filed after that time in most situations. An action may be filed before a child is born, but the judge will not decide the case until after the child’s birth. Preliminary proceedings may take place before the birth, however.
Presumption of Paternity
The statute establishes a presumption of paternity in specific circumstances detailed in the law. If any of the criteria apply, the alleged father can attempt to overcome (rebut) the presumption by introducing clear and convincing evidence to contradict the presumption. The statute details the following circumstances in which a presumption of paternity applies:
During a Marriage or Domestic Partnership
A presumption of paternity applies if a child was born during a marriage or registered domestic partnership between the mother and putative (alleged) father, or within 285 days of termination of the marriage by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, divorce, partnership termination, or court decree of separation. A presumption also applies if the parties attempted to marry during the period, but the marriage was invalid.
While the Parties Lived Together
The law establishes a presumption of paternity if the putative father and natural mother lived together for at least six months before conception of the child and continued to live together during the period of conception.
A presumption of parentage applies if the alleged father voluntarily acknowledged paternity by legally adopting the child, living with the child and holding the child out as his natural child, or signing a mutual written declaration of paternity with the child’s natural mother. In the case of a written acknowledgement, a person has 60 days to rescind an acknowledgement after signing. After that period expires, the acknowledgement has the same effect as a court judgment. At that point, the only way to challenge the acknowledgement is by claiming fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.
A presumption also applies if genetic testing confirms paternity, the alleged father agreed to be a sperm donor with the intent to parent the child, or the child was born under a valid surrogacy agreement.
Genetic Testing and Other Evidence
Genetic testing can establish a presumption that a person is a child’s natural father if the test demonstrates a probability of 99 percent or more that the person is the father, and the alleged father does not have an identical sibling who could be the father of the child. The results of genetic testing can be overcome with clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
The court cannot require anyone to submit to a genetic test against their will, although a judge can order the mother, putative father, or any other person to submit to genetic testing. If the person ordered by the court to submit to a genetic test refuses to take the test, the court may presume that the result would not be in that person’s interests.
Other types of evidence in a paternity lawsuit may include expert opinions, medical evidence, and any other evidence deemed relevant by the court. Compiling evidence and presenting it to the court requires assistance from a knowledgeable legal professional.
Process of a Paternity Determination
Whether parentage is determined as part of another action or as a paternity lawsuit, the determination follows a specific process before the judge renders a decision. The case begins with each of the parties compiling and analyzing evidence to support their position.
A pretrial hearing precedes the trial. The judge or magistrate may make recommendations for resolving the matter during or after the hearing. If the parties do not accept the recommendation, the case goes to trial, where both parties present their evidence. The judge hears and decides the matter of paternity without a jury. The court’s order in a paternity lawsuit may provide for custody or visitation, child support, and any other matter relevant to the parent–child relationship.
Talk with a Las Vegas Paternity Lawsuit Attorney — Free Consultation
If you face a matter involving paternity, Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. Attorney Gersten always uses his extensive experience in domestic matters and litigation to protect his clients’ interests and pursue efficient, cost-effective resolution of an issue.
Joseph Gersten works with clients on a broad range of family law issues in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge at The Gersten Law Firm. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.