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How to establish paternity?

Having a legal parental relationship to a child is critical for many legal proceedings involving immigration, citizenship and more. However, some may not have the benefit due to multiple reasons such as not having one’s name on the child's birth certificate. Also, when the parents of a child are not married, the child has no legal father. The father of the child has no legal rights or responsibilities for the child. This is when the parentage may need to be established.

Parentage can be established by signing a voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. This is a form that when signed by both parents, establishes them as the child's legal parents. Once parentage has been established, the legal parents must financially support the child.

There are other alternatives to establishing parentage or paternity. Documents that indicate a close relationship to the child such as documents that show one's participation in a child's life (financially and/or emotionally), documents that show one's concern and involvement for child's well being, school or church documents can be useful. Copies of receipts of money orders that one sent to the child; insurance records naming a child as one's beneficiary; letters showing exchanges between parent and child; affidavits written by persons who can confirm the parental relationship; etc.

To confirm parentage or paternity, the U.S. government might also require a blood test from a laboratory accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). A DNA test can also be requested.

Once the parentage has been established, the legal parent(s) are responsible for the child and has other rights such as custody.

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