Most fathers ask do dads have rights if not on birth certificate? What rights do they have over their children if they are not registered on the birth certificate? If a couple is married, it is always assumed that the husband is the father of the child, but it is not so simple if the couple has children while unmarried. In short, if you don’t have a birth certificate, you have no legal rights over the child.

There is a difference between being a biological father and being a legal father. If you are not registered as a father on a birth certificate, you do not have the right to care for, visit, or pay child support. In order to assign a father’s legal rights to their children, it is required that they establish paternity. Paternity is an acknowledgment that you have become the father of the child and will begin to take legal responsibility for the child.

While this introduction to paternity law can help you understand the basics, each case is unique. You will eventually find yourself in the court system. This can be a scary experience especially when it’s your first time doing it. Parents can agree that a man is the biological father and sign a form called Recognition of Parentage or court action can be initiated to name the father (adjudicate paternity).

Why should paternity be established?

Often, there is an emotional benefit to a child by connecting with his father. A child may also develop family bonds with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives. Your child can also gain access to medical history and genetic information that may be useful in current or future medical care.

The child has the legal right as an heir to inherit from his father and his father’s relatives. If the father becomes or is disabled, the child may be able to benefit from the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration. Children can also get death benefits from Social Security or military benefits if the father is a veteran.

Once the father is established, the father can be ordered to pay child support for his child. After the child’s parents are legally determined in court, orders regarding child support, child custody, and time of care (visit) can be obtained by either parent. A father who is not married to the child’s mother generally will not be granted custody of the child if the mother provides reasonable care.  A father who has legal rights over his child will help to establish a parent-child relationship between the two. Unfortunately, most children grow up in single-parent households, and having both parents in a child’s life is critical to their development.

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Chris Lauren