A PATERNITY action is required to determine the father of a child. It is clear under the law that the birth mother is a parent to the child. However, if the child was born out of wedlock the law does not recognize any father until paternity is established by the court.

It is important to establish legal paternity because the child will receive the same benefits and rights as children born to a married couple. These include:

  • Legal proof of both the father’s and mother’s identities
  • Both maternal and paternal family medical history information
  • The father’s name on the birth certificate
  • The right to be on medical insurance from both parents
  • The right to receive life insurance from both parents
  • Financial support from both parents

It is also important to estalish legal paternity for the rights of the father. If the parties ever separate, the father will need to establish his paternity in order to ensure his rights to custody and visitation and to make certain legal decisions. Establishing paternity will be important for the child’s right to receive child support.

If the parents agree as to paternity, the parents can avoid the cost and stress of court by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.

If the parties disagree about paternity, DNA tests should be done to determine paternity. Any man who believes he is the father is entitled to a DNA test to prove paterntiy. The process begins with the filing of a Compliant to Establish Parental Relationship. Paternity is not established until the judge has signed a Judgment after trial or an agreement is signed by the parties.