Bastardy proceeding is a lawsuit filed to determine the father of a child born out of wedlock and to provide for the support of the child once paternity is determined. Bastardy proceeding is commonly called paternity suit. Although there are a number of reasons to initiate a paternity suit, 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 paternity suit by working out an amicable private agreement.
Bastadry proceeding may be initiated by the mother, the father or the child. Mothers often file them to legally establish the identity of the man who fathered the child in question. This legal decision can be used to sue for child support and other benefits. A man may file a paternity suit to clear up his position in a case, and a child can file a paternity suit to find out who his or her father is. Certain government agencies may also initiate paternity suits, especially in the cases of contentious adoptions.