How Do Unmarried Fathers Establish Paternity?

Paternity is legally determining the father of a child. Because every child deserves the financial and emotional support of both a mother and a father, establishing paternity is extremely important.

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Why Establish Paternity?

Establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between a father and a child, and is particularly important for unmarried fathers because:

  • Establishing paternity is required in order to make the father legally responsible for paying child support.
  • Establishing paternity is a necessary first step toward visitation for the father.
  • Establishing paternity may provide vital legal benefits for the child, such as a share of social security, disability, or veteran’s benefits if the father dies or becomes disabled, or rights to an inheritance, medical, or insurance benefits from the father.

Benefits for the Child

A child gains personal benefits when paternity is established, including:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • A sense of belonging
  • Family identity
  • The opportunity to learn about the culture of his father’s family
  • Greater involvement in his life from his father
  • Access to his complete health history

In North Dakota, a child support order cannot be established for a child who is born to unmarried parents until the alleged father is determined to be the father. This determination is made through an acknowledgment of paternity or by court order based on the results of genetic testing.

Genetic Testing

If the alleged father denies paternity, genetic testing of the mother, child, and alleged father may be conducted. Genetic tests are extremely accurate, and their results indicate a probability of paternity and can establish a legal presumption of paternity. They can exclude a man who is not the father and can also indicate the likelihood of paternity if not excluded. The North Dakota Child Support Division has a contract with LabCorp, a genetic testing laboratory, to conduct these genetic tests.

If you need guidance regarding paternity issues, contact an experienced family law attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss online or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll-free) today.

Image courtesy of Pezibear/pixabay.

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