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Family Law

Legitimation and Paternity

Contrary to popular belief, the father of child born out of wedlock is not the legal father of his child just because his name is listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate. A legitimation action must be brought by the father asking the court to grant him legal rights. If the father’s paternity is in question, the court will order a DNA test. If the DNA results are positive, an order is usually issued declaring the biological father the legal father of the child and granting him legal rights. The father will be ordered to pay child support, and in many cases, will be granted visitation rights.

Paternity Actions

The mother of a child born out of wedlock can bring a paternity action against the biological father, asking the court to order the father to pay child support. If the father denies paternity, or if there is a question about the identity of the father, the court will order a DNA test. If the results are positive, the biological father will be ordered to pay child support.

Caveat: It is important to understand that paying child support does not give the father legal rights to the child. It only gives the child legal rights to receive support. The father must bring a legitimation action to become the legal father of the child.