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The significance of establishing paternity

When a baby is born in Arizona and any other state in the nation, there is a common misconception that when a man is listed as the father on a birth certificate, this automatically affords him fathers' rights. While being listed as a father could help support a claim for paternity, this alone does not establish paternity. There are several means to establish paternity; however, the goal of this process is to prove whether or not a man is the father of a child.

In a wide variety of cases, paternity can be voluntarily assumed. This occurs when a child's parents are married, when the child's parents are not married at the time of the child's birth but later do get wed and execute a legitimation form, or a child's parents are not married, but do execute a voluntary paternity agreement.

Other ways that paternity can be established is if the child's father tries to get married to the child's mother following the birth or conception of the child, the child's parents marry after the child's birth and the child's father is subsequently included on the child's birth certificate, when the father and child live together and the father holds out to the public that he is the child's father, or a court order exists in which the child's father enjoys equitable custody rights and the relationship between the father and child is a close one.

Paternity can also be established involuntarily. This occurs when a paternity lawsuit is brought against the alleged father. This requires a court appearance and a DNA test. If paternity is established through this method, the father will be required to pay child support if the parents are no longer in a relationship together.

Establishing paternity can have a major significance in each person's life. For the father, this could either mean seeking rights to a child they deemed their own or being held accountable for a child that is proven to be theirs. For the mother, this ensures financial support from the father and even the possibility of shared custody Finally, for the child, it secures support form both parents, provides them with the ability to establish a relationship with both parents and allows their best interests to be met.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Significance of Paternity," accessed April 30, 2017

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