Only the mother is legally recognized as a biological parent when she gives birth to the child for an unmarried couple. The father is momentarily left out of the picture until paternity can be established. It means that even if you are the child’s biological father, you do not have any legally recognized parental rights until paternity can be confirmed.
Beyond the emotional or symbolic reasons for establishing paternity, it can protect your parental rights in the following ways.
- It allows for travel with the child outside the country.
- It protects your legal right to have a relationship with your children.
- It makes future parenting agreements such as custody and support less complicated.
- It provides legal rights if there is a fear that the other parent may take the child without your consent.
- With paternity established, you will have access to information about your child, such as criminal, juvenile or adoption proceedings.
How is paternity established?
There are several ways you can establish paternity if you are not legally married at the time of the child’s birth. This can be done voluntarily or through the court system.
Both parents can sign a legal document in the hospital shortly after the child’s birth that acknowledges paternity. You can also get a court order to establish paternity after a judge hears your case and decides on the matter. Genetic testing can also confirm paternity, and administrative orders can then be issued based on the test results.
You need to proceed carefully
Establishing paternity can be a sensitive and sometimes complex situation. Therefore, you need to have proper guidance and information before taking any steps. The benefits of having a legally recognized father also extend to the children, which is why you need to take everything seriously.