Legal assistance attorneys occasionally advise military members who are an alleged father about an obligation to support a child, the jurisdiction of a court in an adoption or filiation proceeding, possible legitimization by marriage of the parents, and rights of the child under immigration and pension laws. Generally, the father of any illegitimate child may be required to provide child support through paternity proceedings. Where the father has not acknowledged the child, paternity must be established in court or administratively. The degree and the kind of proof required depends on the purpose for which it is used, and the State law involved.
Army Regulation (AR) 608-99, paragraph 3-7, provides guidance on the administrative processing of paternity claims. Aside from the moral issue of fatherhood, child support obligations and some government benefits depend on whether the military member is the biological father.
Paternity establishment is essentially a state law matter for resolution – either judicially or in some states in an administrative proceeding. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), many men voluntarily acknowledge paternity.
OCSE administers a combined Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program to locate parents, their employers, and/or their assets; establish paternity if necessary; and establish and enforce child support orders. State and local CSE offices provide day to day operation of the program. State CSE agencies are listed at the.
Establishing paternity is often the first step to collecting child support for a child born out of wedlock. The paternity proceeding determines whether the named member fathered the child. Either parent can request a blood test in contested paternity cases. Recent developments in DNA testing may make the determination of fatherhood more certain.
The mother of an illegitimate child may allege paternity in a letter to the soldier or his commander, may seek to force the father to provide support through State child support enforcement agencies. Other actions may be brought in connection with divorce, dissolution of marriage, annulment, or spousal support lawsuits, or by a welfare agency.