If you have a child but you are not married to the mother, you are not alone. Approximately 40% of children in the U.S. are born out of wedlock. You may have a lot of questions about your rights as a parent. It can be a confusing situation to be in, especially since there is a lot of misinformation out there.

As the biological father of your child, you have the ability to establish paternity. Establishing paternity not only gives you rights to custody, but it also comes with numerous other benefits for you and your child.

Advantages for your child

When you verify that you are the legal father, your child enjoys the benefit of knowing you. The bond between a father and his child is meaningful and can lead to many good outcomes for years to come. Here are some other benefits for your child:

  • Details about family medical history
  • Health or life insurance
  • Social Security benefits
  • Inheritances

The court may also issue a child support order.

Voluntary establishment of paternity

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, there are two ways you can establish paternity voluntarily: through acknowledgment or legitimation. Acknowledgment requires you and the mother to fill out a form and sign it in front of a notary public or two witnesses. Legitimation occurs if you marry after the child is born. If you marry, you will need to complete a separate form to add your name to the birth certificate.

Paternity through a court order

If the mother of your child is not cooperative with your desire to establish paternity, you may need to file a civil action with the court. This may require genetic testing. Once the court hears the case, the judge will determine whether or not to establish paternity.

Establishing paternity is a great thing to do if you wish to be involved in your child’s life.