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Paternity - Glossary of Terms

Establishing Paternity

Glossary of Legal Terms:

Affidavit: A sworn statement by a party, signing under the pains and penalties of perjury that the statement is true.

Affidavit of Denial of Paternity: A sworn statement signed by the mother and the mother's husband at the time of a child's birth or conception stating that the husband is not the father of the child.

Affidavit of Indigency: A sworn statement that you cannot afford to pay court fees.

Clerk: An employee of the court to whom you bring legal papers to file with the court. The clerk will stamp your original papers with the date that you filed them.

Complaint: A document that initiates a claim in a court. The complaint outlines the facts supporting a claim for relief from damages caused by, or wrongful conduct engaged in, by the person against whom the complaint is filed.

Complaint to Establish Paternity: A claim that asks the court to judicially determine that an individual is the father of a child.

Complaint for Support, Custody or Visitation Pursuant to M.G.L. 209C: A legal claim that asks the court to order a parent to pay for a child's support, determine custody and/or visitation rights. View the statute here.

Defendant: The person against whom a legal action is brought.

Divorce Judgment: A determination by a court that a marriage has legally ended.

Genetic Marker Test: Scientific test used to determine the father of a child.

Judgment: A court's final decision in a case.

Married when the child was born or conceived: In the paternity context, this phrase means that you were married at the time the child was born or that the child was born within 300 days after the marriage ended.

Motion: A written request asking for an order from the court.

Motion for Genetic Marker Test: A request to the court for a scientific test to determine the father of a child.

Motion for Child Support: A request to the court for an order stating the parent who does not have custody of a child must pay child support.

Notary Public: A person appointed by the Governor to make sure certain documents are signed freely and by the person indicated in the document.

Paternity: Legal determination of the father of a child.

Presumption of Paternity: The legal assumption that a particular person is a child's father according to the law. The presumption will be binding unless proven otherwise.

Probate and Family Court: The court that handles probate and family matters such as a will, a divorce, child custody, child support and paternity.

Refutable Presumption of Paternity: A legal term referring to the legal presumption that a person is considered to be the father until proven otherwise.

Service by Publication: A notice in the newspaper telling someone that a claim has been filed against him or her.

Service of Process (or "Service"): Delivery of the statement of claim or other pleadings to those parties named in a court or other adversarial proceeding. Service by Publication is a form of Service of Process.

Temporary Child Support: A court order for child support pending a trial and final judgment.

Temporary Orders Hearing: A court hearing where the judge listens to requests made by both parents.

Testimony: Statements made by a witness under oath to a court.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (or "Acknowledgement of Paternity"): A sworn statement signed by the biological parents of a child to establish fatherhood.

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