The joy of fatherhood is a gift to be cherished and revered, but not all fathers have the legal right to spend time with their children. In some cases, for example, a mother will deny that someone is the father, so she can raise the child on her own. In these cases, the biological father may be able to fight in court to establish his child custody rights. In the modern era of genetic testing, this process is, fortunately, a lot easier than it was in the past.
How to establish paternity in the case of two unmarried parents:
1. If the parents get married later
If the parents marry following the birth of the child, they can fill out what’s called a legitimation form. This form will grant rights to both parents as if they were married before the birth happened.
2. If the parents never get married
The parents can still voluntarily establish paternity if they are certain who the father is. In these cases, both parents can sign what’s usually called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form and submit it to the court. Parents can complete this form at any time after the child is born – even in the hospital immediately after birth. After this form is completed, the father’s name will be added to his child’s birth certificate.
3. If one of the parents objects
If the mother of the child objects to someone who is claiming to be the father, or if the father denies that he is the dad, either party may file a paternity lawsuit to legally establish paternity. This may require a DNA test, which gives – with 99 percent accuracy – a definitive answer to any question of paternity that remains.
If you’re trying to establish paternity, regardless of your reasons, make sure you understand your legal rights and the most appropriate fashion to establish paternity in your case.