When you’re going to have a child with your partner, one of the things you will need to do is establish paternity. Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not be sure that the child is yours. Paternity testing can clear up that question quickly and easily.
All children deserve to know who their fathers are, so it’s important for you to establish paternity as soon as possible. Doing so also grants you rights, such as the right to get a child support order, share time with the child or take other legal actions.
How is paternity established?
Paternity is established in a few different ways depending on the scenario.
- If you and the mother of your child are married at the time of your child’s birth, then paternity is established immediately at the hospital. The hospital will fill out the paperwork for you.
- If you and the mother of the child are married but your wife doesn’t list your name on your child’s birth certificate, then you will need to go to court to establish paternity.
- If you and the mother are not married at the time of your child’s birth, you can fill out a voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form, known as the DH-511. You and the other parent will need to sign it and have a notary present to make it a legally binding document.
- For men who were not married at the time of the birth but who later marry the mother of their children, they will automatically become the legal father but not be listed automatically on the birth certificate. You will need to speak with the Clerk of Court or fill out form DH-743A to add your name to the birth certificate.
- Until the child turns 18, the father can establish paternity by signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity form with the mother.
- Finally, if paternity can be established in no other way, then it’s possible to go to court to have a judge make the determination.
In court cases where it’s not known who the father is for certain, a DNA test may be ordered to establish the biological bond.