Out of the blue, you may have received a message or call from a former partner, informing you that you have a child. You two may have split up long ago, and this revelation could cause mixed emotions for you. You will likely feel excited that you are a father, yet unhappy that you missed the opportunity to spend your child’s early years with them. To become a part of their life, you will need to start by establishing paternity.
Establishing paternity through an acknowledgement
Your child’s mother may have left your name off their birth certificate if your relationship ended before the time your child was born. Yet, they may now want to acknowledge you as your child’s legal father. In this case, you two will want to sign an acknowledgment of paternity. This document can be revoked within a 60-day period. After 60 days, it is legally binding.
Keep in mind that an acknowledgment of paternity sets forth your obligation to provide child support to your child’s mother, as well as medical benefits to your child. It also establishes your child’s rights of inheritance. And it allows them to access any government benefits you may receive in the event you pass away. To receive timesharing and parental responsibilities, you must file a paternity action.
Establishing paternity through a petition
Your child’s mother may not want to acknowledge you as their legal father, yet you may want to assert your parental rights. In this case, you must file a petition to establish paternity. This petition will order genetic testing for you, your child, and your child’s mother. If the testing establishes that there is a genetic relationship between you and your child, the court will issue a child support order. Your petition can also set forth your request for timesharing and parental responsibilities.
Establishing paternity can be a challenging process that you will not want to navigate alone. A family law attorney can make sure you take the necessary steps that allow you to create a relationship with your child.