Paternity is the establishment of formal legal rights between a father and his child. It gives reciprocal rights to the child and the father (and the mother). Therefore, establishing paternity carries serious financial and legal consequences. As discussed in a previous post, paternity is generally automatically established. Usually, because the father is married to the mother or because the father is present during the birth of the child and signs an acknowledgment form. This post will address the less common methods that are used to establish paternity.

The only way to establish paternity, not by the previously discussed methods, is through legal action. The legal action can be initiated by either the father or the mother. The mother may initiate it to compel the father to pay child support. The father may do it to gain legal rights. Even the state may initiate the action if the mother is receiving public benefits.

Regardless of the legal avenue utilized, the end result is a DNA test. The DNA tests used to establish paternity are extremely sophisticated and accurate. Once the DNA test confirms paternity, the court can enter an order establishing paternity over the child. Once that occurs, the father gains paternal rights and now owes legal duties to his child, including child support.

If you are trying to gain legal rights to your child through paternity then you may want to speak to a family law attorney. As discussed in the previous article, paternity is most commonly established automatically. But, as you can see, without those methods it can become very complicated to establish paternity. An attorney can help you get the right to prove you are your child’s father. You don’t need to do this alone.