Children born in Fairfax County deserve to have the support of both parents. This means being given the opportunity to develop a healthy relationship with each parent and be financially supported by each parent, even if the two parents are not married. Unmarried mothers who want to seek child support or unmarried fathers who want to seek parenting time with their child must establish paternity first.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
Parents can voluntarily establish paternity at the hospital when the child is born. They do this by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity under oath. Doing so establishes the man as the child’s father for legal purposes. It also means the child’s birth certificate will list the father’s name as the child’s father.
Other ways to establish paternity
There are three other ways to establish paternity if you did not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital or if there is a question as to who the child’s biological father is. You can submit to a DNA test through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). You can open a child support case with the DCSE. Finally, you can file a petition at your county Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
Why should you establish paternity?
As mentioned, when parents are unmarried and the purported father wants to seek parenting time with the child or the mother wants to seek child support from the purported father, paternity must be established. Establishing paternity also benefits the child. The child is given the opportunity to know the health histories of both parents, and the child also gains inheritance rights from both parents. Establishing paternity can also boost a child’s self-esteem. As this shows, establishing paternity is important for Virginia parents and children.