– from Will Y. in Trenton, WI

Question Details:

A girl I used to date had a child about eight years ago and claims I am the father. She did not file against against me until two years ago but it was dismissed as it was after the five-year period where a paternity case can be filed after a child’s birth. I recently received a letter from our district attorney who is filing a paternity case against me. Is he allowed to do this at all and if so does he have to follow the five-year period?

Family Law Attorney Response:

Thank you for your question. To answer both of your questions briefly, yes the District Attorney has the authority to file a paternity case and no, it does not have to be within the five-year window.

In the case of W.R.W v. Bartholomew (In re Paternity of R.W.L), 116 Wis. 2d 150, 341 N.W.2d 682 (1984), a man looked to have his case dismissed as the District Attorney filed a paternity case against him but it was outside of the five-year window. However this case changed the way paternity cases are viewed. In our current society, paternity cases are now focused on the child involved. Financial support for children (whether born in or out of wedlock) is recognition of the child’s judicially enforceable right vis-à-vis the father to establish parentage and obtain financial support. In order to receive the financial support, the child or mother can file paternity within the five-years of birth. However, if they fail to do so, the district attorney has every power to file a paternity case after that window.

The next step for you is to consult a family attorney. Give us a call and we can set up a time to have you sit down with one of our family attorneys to discuss the next step.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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