The mass media are full of negative stereotypes about fathers.  If your only information came from the news, movies, and memes, you would think that all family law cases involved stressed-out mothers trying to get their partners or exes to assume financial and childcare responsibilities for the children they fathered, while the fathers will stop at nothing to avoid their responsibilities.  Pop culture would have you believe that fathers only care about playing video games, that they only occasionally emerge from their man caves, in order to beget more children. As a dad, you know better. Family law attorneys know better, too.  

Fathers have a right to have a relationship with their children.  In order to exercise that right, you must establish legal paternity.  Either parent can initiate the process of having a man named as a child’s legal father, but it is often the father who pursues the matter.  If you are a father who wants to establish legal paternity, or if you are an unmarried woman who wants to designate your partner as your child’s legal father, a Greenville child custody lawyer can help.

Unmarried Parents and Legal Paternity

When a married woman gives birth, her husband’s name automatically goes on the birth certificate as a child’s father.  Many children are born to unmarried couples, though, and it is possible for unmarried fathers to establish legal paternity as soon as the child is born.  To do this, you can sign the birth certificate as soon as the mother fills it out, but beware that simply signing the birth certificate does not give you legal paternity.  

You must fill out a paternity acknowledgment affidavit and sign it in the presence of a notary.  To avoid delays, you can meet with a lawyer about the affidavit before the child is born and have the affidavit notarized when the baby is just a few hours old.

Even if you don’t get a chance to sign the birth certificate, you can get your name added to the birth certificate later.  You also do this by completing and notarizing a paternity acknowledgment affidavit. In either case, if you establish legal paternity, but you and the child’s mother do not live together, you will need to fill out a parenting plan, in which you agree on how to share parenting time and other responsibilities related to the child.

Does It Matter If You Are the Biological Father?

If you and the mother agree that you should be the child’s legal father, there is no need to take a DNA test.  If the mother does not want you to become the legal father, a DNA test showing your biological relationship to the child can help your case.  The Department of Social Services can administer the DNA paternity test, which is inexpensive and non-invasive for you and the child.

Contact Briggs Law Firm About Child Custody Cases

Establishing legal paternity can help you, your girlfriend, and your child be a family together.  Contact Briggs Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina to discuss your case.

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