To “establish paternity” means to determine who the legal father of a child is. When a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes that the mother’s husband is the child’s legal father. But when a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity will need to be established in order for the court to issue an order for child support and, for the father to invoke his parental rights (child custody and visitation).
Without paternity being established, the mother cannot ask the court for a child support order and the father has zero rights (or responsibilities) toward his child. Generally, paternity is established one of two ways. One, the mother and alleged father sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital shortly after the child’s birth. Or two, through a court-ordered DNA test.
Thinking of establishing paternity? There are some important things you need to know, read on to learn more.
1. When the husband is not the father of the baby. If the mother’s husband is not the father of her baby, her husband and the biological father can sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. From there, Vital Records will add the baby’s actual father to the birth certificate.
2. When a man signs the form, but he’s not sure if he’s the father. Sometimes, an alleged father will sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form but afterwards, he’ll have doubts that he is the child’s father. Sixty days after an Acknowledgement of Paternity form is signed, it becomes a “Legal Finding of Paternity.”
If you signed the form less than sixty days ago, contact our firm for help. We can file a legal action to determine if you are the baby’s father. If it’s been more than sixty days since the form was signed, you can still contact our family law firm for assistance; however, we cannot guarantee that the court will overturn the finding of paternity.
3. When the father lives with the mother. If you and the child’s mother are a happy couple, you may feel as if there is no need to legally establish paternity, but things might change in the future. It is very important to have your name on your child’s birth certificate for many reasons, which we’d be happy to explain.
4. When the parents live together and the father is already supporting his child. If a father is living with the child’s mother, he may already be supporting the child. In these situations, many parents wonder, “Will establishing paternity mean the father has to pay child support?” Establishing paternity and ordering child support are two separate court actions. By establishing paternity, a child support order is not issued. However, it makes it much easier for a mother to receive support if she ever needs it down the road.
Have further questions about establishing paternity in Denver? Contact Jones Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free case evaluation.