Establishing parentage means obtaining an order from the court or signing an official Declaration of Paternity that states who the legal parents of a child are. If, for example, parents of a child were not married when the child was born, the father is not legally determined to be the child’s father until parentage is established, even if he can prove he is the biological father of the child.
Only after parentage is established does the father have legal rights and responsibilities for the child. The court will not order child support, custody or visitation until this determination is made.
- If a father does not admit that he is the parent, the court may order that genetic testing be conducted for the alleged father, mother and child in order to make an official determination.
Once a person is established as the legal mother or father, he or she will then have all of the official parenting responsibilities such as:
- Being able to request custody and visitation orders from the court
- Being responsible for paying child support, health care costs and child-care costs