Becoming a parent is a thrilling, if demanding, experience. The love of a child is invaluable, while the desire to provide for your kids could help you become a better person. Being a parent requires devoting your time, mental and physical energy, and financial resources toward the care of another human. It can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be quite difficult if you are not married to the mother of your child.
If you want to play a role in the life of your child, the first thing you need to do is establish paternity. That means proving to the courts that you are the father of the child. Once you establish yourself as the parent, you will have parental rights to visitation, as well as a legal responsibility to provide for your child via child support.
The easiest way to establish paternity involves the mother
While you may not not have gotten married, you may still have a positive and ongoing relationship with the mother of your child. She can help you assume your role as father, or she can make the entire process more drawn-out and complicated. If the mother is unmarried, she can list you on the birth certificate as soon as your child is born. In order to have your name added, you will need to execute a state document known as the Acknowledgment of Paternity.
If the mother of your child is a married woman with a husband, the state presumes that the spouse is the father. Both the mother and her husband will need to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity along with you for you to assert your position as the child's father. If the mother and/or her spouse refuse to sign, you may have to take additional legal steps.
You can ask the courts to help you establish paternity
If the mother of your child did not name you on the birth certificate and refuses to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, you will have to take legal action. You can file a motion with the courts, asking for their help in establishing paternity of your child. The courts can then compel the mother to appear and may order genetic testing.
A genetic test is your best option in a situation where the mother denies your paternity or refuses to assist you in establishing it. These tests can offer nearly conclusive results that show you are the biological father of the child. Once the test results show that you have a genetic link to the child, you will have the ability to assert your parental rights, including seeking shared custody or visitation with your child.