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Bastardy Action

From lawbrain.com

An archaic name given to a court proceeding in which the paternity of an illegitimate child is determined in order to impose and enforce support obligations upon the father.

The term bastardy action is derived from the early common-law use of the word bastard to describe a child born out of wedlock. Modern legislation refers to such proceedings as filiation proceedings or paternity suits because of the derogatory connotation of the term bastard.

Although such proceedings are typically civil actions, a few states have established such actions as criminal proceedings.

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