If a child is born to parents who are married, the mother’s husband is assumed to be the father. However, if a child’s parents are not married when a child is born, no such assumption is made. Instead, the father may sign a form acknowledging his paternity. By signing the form, a man is entitled to all the rights that a normal father would have. He also assumes all of the obligations that come with being a child’s legal parent.
These obligations may include paying child support or taking other steps to provide for a minor. It may also be possible for a judge to enter an order establishing paternity of a child. This may be necessary if a man is unwilling or unable to voluntarily acknowledge paternity when a son or daughter is born. Once paternity has been established, a father may be granted custody or visitation rights.
In some cases, paternity is not established voluntarily because a man isn’t sure if a child is actually his. Establishing paternity can give a person confidence that it’s worth developing a long-term relationship with a minor child. It is also possible that the mother has withheld the fact that an individual is in fact the father of her child. Depending on the facts of a given case, a man could choose to pursue a paternity test or take other legal action.
Individuals who have engaged in a child custody dispute may want to speak with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a client learn more about establishing paternity and how doing so could give a father greater access to his child. Legal counsel may also help a father establish that granting him custody or visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child.