With the excitement of a new child, legal responsibilities may be overlooked.  Doing so can negatively affect the father’s rights and obligations towards the child. Paternity rights are especially concerning to many families right now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, where parents and children are spending more time with each other at their homes. It’s important for fathers to understand what establishing paternity can do for them and what the process entails.

Paternity rights basics

First, the easiest way in North Carolina to establish your paternity rights is to have your name on your child’s birth certificate. If your child already is born and you weren’t listed on the birth certificate, you and your child’s mother must complete an affidavit establishing paternity.

If your child’s mother is unwilling to do that, you must get a DNA test to establish that you are your child’s father and file a civil action to establish paternity.

When you establish paternity, you will have the legal rights and/or responsibilities of custody and child support that can be determined either between the parties or by a court.

The advantages of paternity

Without established paternity rights, you have no legal right to custody time with your child even during a pandemic that forces everyone to stay at home. Your child’s mother doesn’t need to legally consult you about decisions about where she’ll raise your child or your child’s care. She could even suddenly move out of the state without telling you.

Your child also won’t receive your Social Security benefits or an inheritance if you suddenly pass away. Nor will your child be eligible to be a dependent on your health insurance. If you are a veteran and don’t establish paternity rights, your child won’t receive whatever veteran benefits they might be eligible for.

Establishing paternity for your child is the right decision. Your child support will go toward giving your child better opportunities, and with legal custody or visitation, you can have a more active role in their life.