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Establishing paternity: why it matters and how to do it

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Paternity |

When an unmarried couple has a child, legal paternity is not automatically established. Without legal acknowledgment of paternity, fathers miss out on rights and responsibilities toward their children. Children also miss out on important legal, financial and emotional benefits without formal paternity determinations.

Fortunately, establishing paternity is relatively straightforward.

Why should you establish paternity?

Establishing paternity connects a father to his biological child by law. It allows for your name on the birth certificate, grants you custody rights and establishes child support obligations. Most importantly, it allows the child to benefit from the father’s medical history and claim possible inheritance rights or survivor benefits.

How do you establish paternity?

Establishing paternity is easier than you might think. In fact, you have a few options. You can complete a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form at the hospital when the child is born if there are no questions about paternity. Both unmarried parents must sign the form, and this establishes you as the child’s father.

If you did not sign an acknowledgment at birth, you can still establish paternity later through the court. Complete a paternity complaint form to open a court case. Genetic testing will legally confirm paternity.

As an unmarried father, establishing paternity officially names you as the child’s father and grants your child important legal rights. It also means taking financial and emotional responsibility for your child’s growth. If you have any doubts about legal paternity establishment, your state’s family services office can provide more information to help you understand your options.

Schnaars Law Firm, LLC


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