Your baby’s about to be born, and you’re concerned about the fact that you and the mother aren’t married. You know that you need to establish your legal paternity to protect your rights — and your child.
There are a few different ways that you can go about it:
A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity
If you and the child’s mother are on good terms, you can simply acknowledge your paternity in writing on a form at the hospital after your child is born. You and the mother will both attest that you are the child’s father.
It’s important to remember that this is a legally binding document that entitles you all of the rights of fatherhood — but also obligates you to the responsibilities. If you have any doubts about whether you are the child’s father, you shouldn’t sign this acknowledgment. The ability to rescind or challenge the voluntary acknowledgment is very limited.
Genetic testing to establish paternity
Genetic testing is the other most common method of establishing paternity. It eliminates any question about whether or not the child is yours.
Genetic testing can be requested by either the mother (who is likely seeking to hold the father responsible for support) or the father (who is probably seeking to establish his visitation and custody rights).
By court order
Most of the time, establishing a child’s paternity is a rather straight-forward process. When it gets more complicated for some reason, it may take the intervention of the court. You can ask the judge to adjudicate the child’s parentage based on available evidence.
A paternity action opens the doors for you to establish a strong relationship with your child, so don’t delay.