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Just because a man’s name is listed on the baby’s birth certificate as the child’s father, legally this does not establish paternity. Interestingly enough, a woman can list anyone she wants or believes to be, the father. In addition, a DNA test is not the singular way to determine paternity. There are several other ways that can be used to establish paternity. Speak with an experienced family law attorney if you are seeking to establish paternity or have questions about your legal obligations to a child and what the specific laws are in your state. See below to find out ways to establish paternity and the significance of each method.

Paternity that is assumed voluntarily

There are many circumstances where paternity is assumed:

  • A baby is born to a married couple
  • The couple has a baby prior to being married, but then marry after the baby is born and sign a legitimation form
  • An unmarried couple have a baby but voluntarily sign an acknowledgement of paternity or other agreement written by a lawyer
  • An attempt is made by the father to marry the mother when the baby was conceived or born
  • After the child is born, the father and mother get married and the father agrees to having his name on the birth certificate or agrees to financially support the child
  • The father publicly proclaims the child as his and the child lives in his home
  • The child and the father have developed a close relationship and the court agrees to equal parental custody rights

Because it takes more than a name on a birth certificate or a blood test to determine paternity, an unmarried father should recognize his paternity using one of the above reasons. If he does not, he runs the risk of losing his parental rights to another man who desires to become the presumed father of the child.

Involuntary Paternity

If the mother chooses to file a lawsuit against the presumed father, the father is required to go to court and possibly submit to a DNA test. Paternity is established through genetic blood tests with a 99 percent accuracy. If he is proved to be the father, the court will issue an order concerning the paternity of the father and he will be forced to pay child support.

What is the legal significance of determining paternity?

Paternity significance for the father

If it is legally established that the man is the father, he will be obligated for his portion of support and responsibility. If he does not step up, the a successful paternity suit will force him to do so. If a father claims paternity he also gets custody and visitation rights with the child. If the child is born out of wedlock and the mother wishes to put the baby up for adoption, she will not be able to do so if the father, after asserting paternity, does not give consent.

Paternity significance for the mother

Paternity may determine some sort of secure financial support from the father. In addition, the mother may have to share custody or allow him visitation rights.