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What Is Legal Paternity?

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Legal paternity refers to the courts legally recognizing someone as a child’s legal father. If you are the legal father of a child, you have automatic parental rights. However, paternity is not automatically established in all cases, even if you signed the child’s birth certificate. It’s important to know how legal paternity works so that you can know your rights and what you need to do to establish those rights.

If you have questions about establishing paternity and what kind of parental rights you may have, call our law firm. Our team can help you understand what your options are, and you can schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

How Is Legal Paternity Established?

When a married father has a child, the child is automatically presumed to be his legally. The child being born during the marriage establishes legal paternity. However, if the parents are not married, it’s a different situation. If the parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, both parents have to sign a recognition of parentage. This is a legal document that has to be signed in front of a notary that says that you are the father. If this isn’t possible, paternity can be established by a paternity test through the family courts.

What Happens After Paternity Is Established?

If you are seeking to get court ordered visitation or to get a custody order established, determining paternity is the first step. Once paternity has been established, you will be able to file a petition for custody or visitation with the family courts. You will need to show why the requested change is in the child’s best interests. If the child’s mother fights the petition, it can take several months for the matter to be fully resolved, so it’s important to have accurate expectations.

What Are the Next Steps?

If you’re ready to move forward with your paternity case, it’s time to talk to an attorney. A family law attorney can get the details of your case and help you understand what you need to do to establish paternity and what your existing parental rights — if any — may be. Once you understand the path forward, you can start the process of requesting a paternity test and then move on to visitation and custody. Child support may also be a factor in your case.

Take the first step toward establishing paternity and fighting for your relationship with your children when you call our law office at 651-571-8547  and schedule your  consultation today. You can speak to a family law attorney about what is involved in a paternity case and what you need to know about your situation.

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