People sometimes fall in love and have a child with a partner even if they are not married. These loving relationships do not always last, however, leading to a break-up and the child going to live with one parent – commonly the mother. If a mother wants to receive child support from her ex or if the father wants to pursue custody rights with his child, paternity needs to be established.
If parents agree on paternity
If a child’s parents are married, the husband is automatically presumed to be the child’s father. If the child’s parents are not married, but they agree that the man is the child’s biological parent they can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born. This is done voluntarily.
If parents do not agree on paternity
If the child’s parents are unmarried and they did not sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, they need to pursue an order of filiation to establish paternity. The mother and purported father will have a hearing before a Support Magistrate. The Support Magistrate will generally order a DNA test to be performed. This will show whether the purported father is the child’s biological father. Once this is done an order of filiation will be entered.
Paternity benefits the child
Establishing paternity benefits the child in many ways. It gives a child a child a sense of identity. The child can learn about their family medical history and will have inheritance rights. Most importantly, the child can have the financial support of both parents and the chance to spend time with both parents.