If a man and a woman are not married when a child is born, the father doesn’t have any parental rights. This means that the father has no say in how the child is raised, and is not responsible for paying child support. The father is also not allowed to see the child if the mother so wishes.
How Is Paternity Acknowledged?
For an unmarried couple, the father may acknowledge that he is a newborn’s father by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form or by signing the birth certificate. Some states may require both pieces of paperwork be signed, as state laws can vary slightly. All states have programs in place where hospitals give unmarried parents the chance for the father to acknowledge paternity.
The mother is also required to sign the acknowledgement of paternity form. If the mother does not sign or refuses to acknowledge paternity, the man must attempt to establish paternity at an administrative or court hearing. If the man denies paternity, then the mother can have the man served with a notice of paternity.
Paternity Acknowledgement Through Court
If the man believes he is the child’s father, he can request genetic testing to prove it. These tests – DNA tests – are non-invasive and can eliminate a man as the father or prove he is the father. These tests are highly accurate. Genetic testing is paid for by the state if the court orders the tests; however, in some states, if the man is found to be the father, he could be charged for the tests.
Once paternity is established, the court will likely order some form of child custody that includes the father, as well as an order for child support. In many states, a woman may not get government assistance if she does not provide the father’s name.
What If the Father Cannot Be Located?
In situation like this, there could be a default order of paternity. The court may also order child support. If the father cannot be located by traditional means, the state and Federal Parent Locator Services may be used to help.
I Want to Establish Paternity, but the Mother Says I’m Not the Father
For men who must fight to prove paternity, the help and advice of an experienced family law attorney can prove very valuable. He or she will be able to help you throughout the family court process to establish paternity.
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