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What are the rules and guidelines for paternity and child support in Tennessee

Oak Ridge, TN |

My husband is accused of fathering a child with another woman. The child is now over a year old. Throughout a majority of her pregnancy and about three months after the birth he made attempts to have a paternity test done, even offered to pay for it professionally and arranged an appointment to which she never showed. Since then we have seen the child and there is no resemblance but the chance still lingers there. We want to know without taking anything to court and also want to be protected down the road in case the mother decides she wants compensation. What can we do? Are there laws that protect him since we have documented requests and attempts to get a paternity test?

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Attorney answers 3


As a potential Father, your husband could file a petition to establish paternity, and as part of that proceeding he could demand that a DNA test be conducted. If the DNA test rules him out as the Father, then he would not have to worry about this situation any further. However, if DNA testing shows that he is the Father, child support would be set, and he could also pursue co-parenting time with his child.

If he doesn't deal with this situation now, there is always the possibility that the child's Mother and/or the State of Tennessee could sue him for child support years down the road, and he could end up owing tens of thousands of dollars in back child support. At a minimum, your husband should consult with an attorney in order to fully understand all if his options and their potential legal ramifications. Many attorneys, including myself, offer free initial consultations.

Best of luck!

Jere Franklin Ownby III

Jere Franklin Ownby III


Ben has "nailed it".


I agree with the previous response. If you decide not to file though, hold onto all the proof you have about contact and setting the DNA test. It will be useful to reduce a future judgment.

If you find this answer helpful, please let other readers know by marking the answer as "helpful". No discussion on this board is intended to replace the advice or consultation when all facts are disclosed and pleadings reviewed. No attorney client relationship is established by initiating this discussion with the attorney. For further discussion, I can be contacted by phone at 615-452-4423 or my email at Most consultations are free. My office is located in Gallatin, TN and I am licensed to practice in the state of Tennessee.


If the mother is unwilling to consent to the DNA testing done privately, your husband can petition the court to establish parentage, including a request for court-ordered DNA testing. If he turns out to be the father, he will be ordered to pay child support, but will also be able to seek parenting time with the child. If the DNA tests exclude him as the father, you can put this issue behind you and move forward with your lives. Please consult with an attorney before filing any petitions with the court, as this is a complex issue.

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