When a child is born within marriage, the male spouse of the mother is automatically designated as having legal paternity whether or not he is the biological father. If the couple is unmarried or the biological father is someone other than the mother’s spouse, the biological father must complete the defined process to establish legal paternity.
Legal visitation rights cannot be established without first establishing legal paternity. Often a biological father forms a personal relationship with his child without legal paternity or legal visitation rights. That relationship, however, may depend solely on the discretion of the mother. If the mother decides to stop the father's visits, the biological father who has not established both legal paternity and legal visitation rights has no legal recourse.
How do you know paternity is not established?
If the couple is unmarried or if the biological father is someone other than the mother’s spouse, the biological father must take specific actions to establish legal paternity.
When fathers establish paternity, they benefit their children in many ways.
If you are the father of a child born out of wedlock, it’s up to you to protect your rights.
This guide outlines the three ways to establish paternity in our state and the steps to getting there.
If you are not certain you are the father, do not complete a paternity acknowledgment form. You can, however, protect your rights by enrolling with the Responsible Father Registry.