There are several reasons someone would want to establish paternity. Whatever your reason, here’s your essential guide to establishing paternity.
In the eyes of the law, to be a father is more than just giving half his genes. To have paternity over a child means “the state of being a father,” and all that this implies.
It means you’re bound to care for and raise the child, regardless whether it’s your flesh and blood. It also means paternity isn’t always easily confirmed.
Sometimes, a child’s biological father won’t be there at the birth. In fact, he may never show up. The mother may not know who the child’s father is.
But just because the man’s name isn’t on the birth certificate doesn’t mean the child is fatherless.
There are steps people can take to claim paternity over a child, even long after they’re born. A mother also can help the legal system identify the father so he can fulfill his obligations to her and the child. It just takes work.
Name Baby and Father Once Born
The simplest way to establish a person’s paternity is to name them after the child is born. In most situations, the father is there with the mother at the hospital, and neither can leave until paperwork is signed.
The paperwork legitimizes the child’s birth certificate and legally identifies the person with paternity over the child.
Sometimes, the father simply isn’t available and doesn’t show at the hospital. There are still ways to establish paternity if hospital paperwork isn’t complete.
Use Official Paternity Statement
Not all couples are wed or stable enough to go to the hospital to witness together their child’s birth. Sometimes, the father must wait until the mother leaves the hospital before he can sign paperwork to claim paternity.
In these cases, official paternity statements can help.
With an official paternity statement, the father basically states the child is his, even if he couldn’t sign the birth certificate. It acts as a stand-in for his signature. The courts can use it to acknowledge the father’s paternity rights.
Such a paternity statement can also be used to help if the father dies.
Official paternity statements are not federal documents. Each state has its own official paternity statement you should get to seek full parental rights. Here is Nebraska’s official paternity statement for residents of NE. Contact a family lawyer or go to your local courts to help you find the right document.
Notarize Informal Statements
Sometimes, neither the father or mother want an official paternity statement. Yet the father may want a chance to later go back and claim parental rights.
The couple can agree to get an informal paternity statement. They acknowledge the child is theirs sign in the document. But that still doesn’t clearly establish the father’s paternity over the child.
Yet such a statement gives the child a distant relationship with its biological father, should they want to develop a deeper one in the future. It also gives those men who know they’d be bad fathers a chance to opt-out without facing legal consequences.
Unnamed Fathers Face Challenges
There are ways mothers can find the father of her child if he avoids them. It doesn’t matter if the father’s name isn’t on any paperwork — DNA testing and simple investigation can reveal his identity. And such an investigation can happen at any time the mother decides to pursue charges against him.
A father may need to pay child support for the mother’s custodianship of their child. He may also need to pay if the child has special needs or isn’t 18 years old. The money fulfills his financial obligation to support the child while it matures.
State prosecutors always seek child support from absent fathers, and they usually succeed in making them pay.
But waiting to be a part of your child’s life can also limit your parental rights. Without an informal paternity statement or other official document, the courts may not trust your ability to raise a child. They may limit the time you have with it or set limits on what you can do together.
Hard to Establish Post-Birth Paternity
The best way to establish paternity is to simply be there when the child is born. If your name is on the birth certificate, there’s almost no doubt you legitimately have paternity.
But if you can’t get your name on it, you can go through extra steps to claim your child in court.
Most of the time, the courts will request a simple DNA test to establish your parental rights. Yet it’s possible to sway the courts with circumstantial evidence instead of a DNA test. This is more likely in cases of adoption when the biological father may not be fit to be a parent.
Evidence can include everything from family photographs to gifts given to a child. When you try to establish paternity through evidence, you’re not proving you have a relationship with the child. You’re trying to prove they’re best off in your care. And doing that takes work.
A Good Father Sets Good Examples
Establishing paternity is all about persuading the court you’re capable of being a good father. That you can be trusted to raise your child successfully.
But that isn’t just what a father is. A good father is someone who shows a child the person they should grow up to be.
He sets examples a child will rely on and refer to as it matures. Make sure those examples are good. Take responsibility for raising a child and call us at (402) 415-2525
We’ll work with you, the father, to assure you earn paternity or, if you’re the mother, that you get the support you need.