Before an unmarried father can establish an allocation of his parental rights and responsibilities and before an unmarried mother can obtain an order for child support for a child, paternity must first be established. This can be accomplished through a proceeding with the court or with an administrative agency through what is known as a “paternity affidavit” or through DNA testing.
The “Paternity Affidavit” is typically signed at the hospital at the child’s birth and a record is kept with the Office of Vital Statistics. If the affidavit has been signed and filed with the Office of Vital Statistics, or if DNA testing has been completed and it conclusively establishes that a specific person is the child’s father, then the court or administrative agency will have the evidence necessary to make a ruling of paternity and be able to proceed to other related legal matters such as custody and visitation and child support. If a paternity affidavit has not been signed and appropriately filed, a father can petition the court to establish paternity and may need to obtain DNA testing.
It is important to know that signing the Paternity Affidavit or having DNA testing done does not automatically entitle a father to visitation or custody of a child, nor does it automatically create an obligation of child support. Instead, this is a necessary prerequisite to requesting establishment of those rights and responsibilities.
If you have questions about how to establish the paternity of your child, you are seeking custody or visitation with your child, or you are seeking to establish a child support for your child, you can trust that at Edward F. Whipps & Associates we can help you sort it out. We have extensive experience and knowledge and understand the steps that must be taken, as well as the risks to mitigate
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