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What is the legal impact of a paternity determination?

Paternity is important to determine for a variety of reasons, including because of the emotional and financial impact it has on the child and the parents. It is key to determine paternity because it has a significant impact on the legal rights of the child and can also have an emotional impact on the child as well.

Paternity can be established through several methods and determines the child's legal father. Paternity is established when a child is born to a married couple; when a child is born to an unmarried couple but the couple marries following the birth of the child and signs a legitimation form; the child is born to an unmarried couple who never marry, but who sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity; the father attempts to marry the mother when the child was born or conceived; the father marries the mother following the child's birth and agrees to add his name to the birth certificate or supports the child; the father holds the child out as his own or welcomes the child into his home; and in some other circumstances through the family law court.

In addition, paternity can be determined by a DNA test that can be agreed to by the couple or ordered by the family law court through a paternity action, which can be initiated by either the mother or the putative father. Once legal paternity has been established, the father has the responsibility to support and care for the child and the family law court can help the couple with concerns including child support and child custody. For the child, they are also able to inherit from their father, obtain paternal medical information and access other benefits related to the establishment of paternity as well.

Establishing paternity is an important process for a variety of different reasons, which is why couples should be familiar with the different ways paternity can be established. The family law court can help them through the process so they can resolve their paternity concerns.

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