Who's the father? It might sound like a fairly straightforward question, but when it comes to child support issues, establishing paternity can be complicated, as different circumstances give rise to different legal rules.
When a child is born to an unmarried couple, the child has no legal father, so paternity needs to be established. Paternity is a legal relationship between a father and his child, and represents a legal determination on who the biological father of the child is.
It is not enough that the mother and the father agree that the child is his, paperwork needs to be done! Only then can child access his or her rights, social and legal benefits, as well as important medical information.
So, for a child to access his father's medical insurance, Social Security, workers 'or veterans' compensation, or life insurance, and later to be entitled to inheritance, paternity needs to be established first. Without the father's name on the child's birth certificate, the child may not be able to get a US passport.
When both parents are present at the hospital when the child is born, and the alleged father agrees that he is the biological father, paperwork can be signed then and there. What happens if the father is not present at the hospital, or if he doesn't believe that he is the father of the child?
When a mother wants to establish paternity for her child, paternity can be established through a court or a legal administrative process. In case the father does not believe that he is indeed the father of her child, genetic testing is administered. The DNA is usually obtained by swabbing the inside of the cheek of the mother, the child, and the alleged father. These tests are extremely accurate, and in most cases can be done for free.
If the DNA test indicates that the alleged father is indeed the biological father, paternity is legally established. If the test turns out negative, an order of non-paternity is filled to court so that the alleged father is no longer involved, and the mother must provide the name of another alleged father to continue the process of establishing paternity for her child.
Establishing paternity does not mean that the father is going to start paying child support automatically, but once paternity is established, a support order can be taken. Legal paternity may be a prerequisite for the court to order visitation and custody rights.
Please note that paternity laws differ between states.