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How is paternity established?

Establishing paternity is important for a variety reasons that include both emotional and financial reasons for the child. It is helpful for unmarried parents to understand the process of establishing paternity and the impact it can have on them and the child.

When the parents of a child are married at the time of the child's birth, paternity is presumed. When the parents are unmarried, it may be necessary to establish paternity. When the child's parents are unmarried, paternity can be established through a paperwork process and voluntary agreement of the parents. Paternity can also be established through the family law court and either parent can bring a paternity claim to establish paternity.

A paternity lawsuit can compel DNA testing of the child and the putative father to determine paternity of the child. Once paternity of the child is determined, and paternity is legally established, other concerns such as child custody and child support can then be addressed. Paternity is important for a variety of emotional and financial reasons in addition to custody and support such as medical history, inheritance purposes and emotional support as well. Fathers' rights are also impacted by the decision to determine paternity because a paternity order will impact visitation rights and other rights the father may have.

The family law court can help guide families, including unmarried parents, through the concerns they face such as establishing paternity and the implications of a paternity order. It is helpful for unmarried parents to be familiar with this process and the importance of establishing paternity for their child.

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