Out of wedlock child birth is not uncommon, but what most people do not realize is that paternity is only presumed if a couple was married at the time of birth. Thus, when a couple is unmarried, paternity can only be established by petitioning the court and submitting to a DNA test to confirm that the father is in fact the child’s biological father. Without this legal recognition, the father for all intents and purposes has no rights over the child, including custody and life decisions of the child.
Ideally, both parties will stipulate to the establishment of paternity and thus the process can be rather quick and easy. Regrettably, though, paternity can be a highly contested process that can require additional court intervention.