When you birth a child as part of a married couple, the law automatically assumes that your husband is the father.
If you have a child out of wedlock, however, the father may deny or be uncertain of his paternity. In these instances, you may wish to have him take a paternity test to prove that he is the biological father. In the case that he refuses the paternity test, however, you may wonder if you can force him to take it.
For unmarried couples, there are many benefits to establishing legal paternity. Without doing so, the court cannot order the presumed father to pay child support, if necessary. Additionally, the father cannot seek custody or visitation rights without first establishing that he is the biological father.
If you are not in a monogamous relationship with the baby’s father, or the two of you do not live together and support each other, you may wish to determine paternity.
Determining paternity voluntarily
In many cases, the father may willingly acknowledge that he is the father. This may be as simple as his signing of the birth certificate, or voluntarily taking a DNA test. Some fathers want the security of knowing that the child is indeed their own and will happily take a paternity test.
Determining paternity involuntarily
If the alleged father refuses to take a paternity test, you may have a court require him to do so. According to FindLaw, you must file a civil lawsuit to accomplish this, also known as a paternity action. Once the results establish paternity, the courts may rule on a child support or custody order.
Establishing paternity is an important part of helping support your child both financially and emotionally.