A man is presumed to be a child’s natural father if a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days thereafter, if the parties attempted to marry each other before the child’s birth but the marriage was later deemed invalid, or if an acknowledgment of paternity is signed.
Why does Paternity Need to be Established?
If a child is born out of wedlock, paternity must be established before a man will be given visitation or custodial rights. Also, a child cannot inherit from a father until paternity is established.
How Can Paternity be Established?
Paternity may be established by naming the father on the birth certificate; signing an acknowledgment of paternity; or having a DNA test.
If parents did not fill out legal documents naming the father when the child was born, the involved parties will have to enter the court system to determine paternity. Either party can petition the court for DNA testing. Upon the court’s order, the testing will be completed and the results provided to the court. So long as there is a more than 99% probability that the man is the child’s father, paternity will be established.
At that point, the father may petition the court for custody or visitation and will be considered to stand on equal footing with the child’s mother.
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