Unmarried parents going through a separation might find that paternity plays a significant role in child custody arrangements. Paternity refers to the legal acknowledgment of who the child’s father is and once determined, paternity provides the father with legal rights and responsibilities regarding the child. When two parents were never legally married, there is a chance that the father was never legally recognized as the child’s biological parent. In this situation, a father has no official rights to spend time with their child until they legally establish their biological paternity of the child. For this reason, paternity determinations are often significant when seeking child custody rights.
When going through the process of seeking custody rights or setting up a custody arrangement, establishing paternity can be an important step. If the parents of the child were not married at the time the child was born, the father will not be named on the birth certificate unless both parents request this. There are several ways to establish paternity in Connecticut:
- Both parents acknowledge paternity at the time of birth—this involves both parents signing an acknowledgment of paternity form that confirms who the father is. Sometimes this form is signed at the hospital after the birth of a child.
- If there was no paternity acknowledgment at the time of birth, parents can go to the Department of Public Health or the Department of Social Services to sign the form at a later date.
- Establishing paternity through the court is another option, and this is usually the route taken when one parent resists acknowledging paternity. When unmarried parents are not willing to sign the acknowledgment of paternity form, the court can order a DNA test to determine paternity. From there, a mother who is seeking paternity acknowledgment will file a claim through the Department of Social Services or Family Court. If the father is seeking a paternity acknowledgment, he will file a claim with the local court.
Why Paternity Matters
Essentially, establishing paternity allows the father the right to seek custody of the child. This could be full or partial custody, but without the acknowledgment of paternity, these rights are minimized. Without establishing paternity, a father does not have the right to:
- Request visitation
- Seek custody
- Add a child to his insurance policy
- Partake in important decisions such as medical treatment, schooling, religion, etc.
- Determine where the child will live
- Speak with an Experienced Stamford, Connecticut, Family Law Attorney Today
At the Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, L.L.C. – Family Law, we understand how important custody rights are to parents who are facing a separation or were never a couple. If you are working through issues regarding paternity, call us today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We will review the details of your situation and help to proceed with next steps. Child custody arrangements are a delicate matter and deserve the attention of a skilled legal representative. Call us today at (203) 348-2465 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you to seek custody rights.