How to Establish Paternity
If a married couple has a child together, the presumption will typically be that the husband is the father. However, when the couple is not married, it is necessary to establish the father’s paternity when the child is born to protect both parent’s parental rights, and the baby’s long-term support. Disputes involving child support and child custody will factor in paternity in a big way.
Here’s a brief overview of how to establish paternity.
Using the birth certificate
The most effective way to establish paternity is to name the father on the baby’s birth certificate. All states are required to offer unmarried parents the opportunity to establish paternity by having the father sign an acknowledgement of the paternity at the hospital (or, in some cases, at a later date). Sometimes, the only way the father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate is if he signs that form, which means if the father is not at the hospital, the mother will not be able to list him on the birth certificate, meaning that information would have to be added later, after the father has had the opportunity to sign the voluntary declaration of paternity.
Once the father has signed that form, the father’s paternal rights are legally binding. This means if the couple is not together and the mother has custody of the child, the man who signed his name on that form is legally responsible for paying child support.
There are occasionally lawsuits over the issue of paternity, and they tend to arise when there is question over a father’s responsibility for paying child support or his rights to visitation or custody. Refusal to sign a paternity agreement does not mean a father can get away with not paying custody — instead, there will likely be further court proceedings meant to establish the father’s paternity so the baby can get the support that is its right.
For further guidance on establishing paternity, speak with a skilled Nassau County family law attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.