Not all men who are told that they are a child’s father agree with the mother. Even if they agree, they will still need to take legal steps to be granted rights. Determining who a child’s father is can be critical for several reasons, aside from obtaining legal rights. For example, a family’s medical history can be critical when it comes to the birth of a child. Genetic diseases can be inherited and affect a child’s health. This is just one of the reasons that establishing paternity can be a necessity.
How is paternity determined? Can someone be forced to submit to a paternity test? After all, just because a father is listed on a birth certificate does not mean that they have legal rights. And until paternity is official, a court may not order a noncustodial parent to pay child support. What options are available to fathers?
Here are four ways that paternity can be legally established.
Voluntary Paternity Establishment
One way to establish paternity is through voluntary paternity establishment. This occurs when neither parent contests the paternity of a child. The mother and father will execute an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) to give the father legal rights.
Agreed Paternity Order
Paternity can also be established through an Agreed Paternity Order. This can be an option when the parents agree to custody arrangements, visitation, child support and medical support.
Court-Order Paternity Test
In instances when the parents do not agree to the paternity of the child, the court can step in. This occurs through a Court-Order Paternity test where the alleged-father must submit to a DNA test. If the test proves the identity of the father, the legal rights will be established.
It’s important to note that legal action to establish paternity is not required if the parents are married at the time of the birth.
While the birth of a child can be an exciting time, it can also cause the alleged-father distress if they have doubts. If that is the case, it may be a good idea to seek out a genetic test as soon as possible after the birth. The test must be conducted by a lab that has been accredited by the American Association Blood Bank and home paternity tests do not suffice. Being a father is a lifelong commitment and those who question the paternity shouldn’t feel guilty for requesting proper documentation.