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Know what it takes to establish paternity

To establish your rights as a father, you'll want to make sure you're knowledgeable about the law and what you need to do. Every man's situation is different. Some need to have DNA tests. Others can voluntarily admit paternity. Others have to take the mother to court to seek testing and to obtain their rights.

Your situation may be different than the above, but the most important factor is being able to get the legal rights that come with fathering a child. You want to be in your child's life, and it's essential that you get that opportunity.

What can you do to establish paternity?

If you were married at the time when your child was conceived or born, there is a presumption that you are the father. At the hospital, you can sign an acknowledgement of paternity. You and the mother both sign the baby's birth certificate, and your legal rights are established as the child's biological father.

If you're not certain of being the father, that can make things more complicated. The hospital staff may be able to perform a DNA test for you. If it comes back that you are the father, you can still sign the birth certificate. If not, then you can refuse to take on the responsibility of raising the child. DNA tests are reliable, and they're accurate around 99% of the time.

If you were not married when your child was conceived or are not married when they're born, then everything changes. You'll need to seek a DNA test unless you and the mother agree that you are the father and you sign a voluntary document that says so.

It's important to take an active interest in the child if you intend to prove paternity. If you are not married, there is no presumption that you are the father, but you can build a strong case for being the father, even without DNA, by showing that you care for the child as your own.

What should you do if a mother refuses DNA testing?

You can take the mother to court and seek an order for a DNA test. The judge will order the test and determine if you are the father. If the DNA test comes back positive, you will get the same rights and responsibilities as any other biological father, and you will have the right to visitation and custody.

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