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An overview of establishing paternity

An unplanned child does not mean that the parents do not love the child. The concept of the family is quickly evolving to include a variety of matches that were unthinkable even 20 years ago. These new familial configurations can bring about some legal questions, especially if the child's parents are unmarried.

For many reasons, it is important to settle the matter of a child's paternity. The court presumes that the husband, in a marriage, is the father of any children born during the marriage. It will also presume parentage if the father signs the birth certificate or signs a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. But, these are the ways to establish paternity when everyone involved wants to ascertain legal parentage and rights.

If no one is willing to voluntarily submit to being the father, then the mother may initiate a court action. This means that the mother would file an order with the court that compels the father to appear. He will then answer the allegation if he is the father; if there is an impasse then the court may order the father to submit to a DNA test. If the test is positive then the court will enter an order establishing paternity. The government may also initiate this process if the mother is on public assistance.

If you or a loved one are considering establishing paternity, you may want to sit down and speak to a lawyer. These actions can become complicated if the father refuses to cooperate. Once paternity is established the child has a right to child support, inheritance and a multitude of other rights. Paternity can confer significant benefits on your child. This is a serious matter that demands you spend the appropriate amount of time to determine the appropriate course of action.

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