A paternity suit is a legal action which is taken to determine the identity of the father of a child.

There are a number of reasons to initiate a paternity suit, but most suits are filed to establish financial or moral responsibility on the part of one or both parents involved. 

A paternity suit may also be used to gain visitation rights, or to settle a contentious issue. Parents can also avoid a suit by working out an amicable private agreement. Private agreements often do not work, particularly when the mother and father of the child are on less than amicable terms.  A private agreement is not enforceable whereas a child support and visitation order established in a court of law is.

Evidence of paternity may include..

..blood tests (which can eliminate a man as a possible father), testimony about sexual relations between the woman and the alleged father, evidence of relationship of the couple during the time the woman became pregnant, admissions of fatherhood, comparison of child in looks, eye and hair color, race and, increasingly, DNA evidence. In addition to the desire to give the child a known natural father, proof of paternity will lead to the right to child support, birthing expenses and the child’s inheritance from his father. The threat of a paternity suit against a man married to another may lead to a prompt and quiet settlement.(The People’s Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill,2009)

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