What is paternity?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
'Paternity' means fatherhood. 'Establishing paternity' means identifying the father of a child, legally determining he is the father, and recognizing the father's rights and responsibilities. To establish paternity without question, a man may sign a 'voluntary statement of paternity,' or he may take a blood or DNA (D-N-A) test. An 'acknowledged father' is any biological father of a child born to unmarried parents for whom paternity has been established by either the admission of the father or the agreement of the parents. A man is the 'presumed father' of a child if he was married to the mother when the child was conceived or born, if he married the mother after the birth and agreed either to have his name on the birth certificate or to support the child, or if he welcomed the child into his home and openly recognized the child as his own. In some states, if a man has 'presumed' paternity, it's considered conclusive. This means that if another man's blood test shows he is the child's biological father, the presumed father still has established paternity because he has essentially made the child his own. Both an acknowledged father and a presumed father must pay child support, and have the right to have sole or joint custody of the child, or visitation rights. A mother may take an alleged father to court to establish his paternity in order to collect child support.

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