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How can I establish paternity?

There are many different types of families today, and there are many reasons for establishing paternity for your child in Tennessee. Changes in relationships, arrest or death of a parent or other circumstances may mean that you need to legally identify the father.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services says it is in the child’s best interests to have the mother and father establish their paternity at the time of birth. Doing so means the father’s name will be on the birth certificate, giving the baby a legal connection to him. It also gives the father a legal connection to the baby.

The legal father has rights, which include maintaining a relationship with his child. By having his name on the birth certificate, the father has already established a basis for his custody as well should the relationship break up.

Paternity is established with the use of a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, a legal form that parents must fill out and sign before a notary public. Typically, the hospital provides this document and explains the process. Once the form is signed, the parents’ names are taken from it to put on the birth certificate.

If parents are married when the child is born, the husband is assumed to be the father. If parents are not married, the state considers the birth mother to have custody, unless the father signs the paternity form.  

If either parent questions who the biological father is, a DNA test can establish paternity. At times, this test is ordered by the court in order to determine child support requirements. Once paternity is established, the child will be eligible for benefits attached to the father, such as life insurance, inheritance rights, veteran’s benefits and Social Security.

Additional benefits include establishing a medical history for the child and whether he or she has inherited a disorder or disease. Plus, the child becomes eligible for inclusion in a parent’s health insurance

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