Establishing paternity gives a child a legal father. It also gives the father both rights and responsibilities related to helping take care of his child. By knowing both parents, a child gains a sense of identity and belonging. Making the relationship legal from the beginning provides a greater opportunity for a healthy relationship and insures the father's rights to a relationship with his child. Legal fathers have all of the same parental rights and responsibilities as the mother, including the right to seek custody or visitation.
Parents and their children should know about potentially inherited health problems. Establishing paternity provides the child a greater likelihood of having access to this information. In addition, establishing paternity is the first step in making plans to provide the financial support a child needs.
When legal paternity is established, the child will have access to:
- Social Security dependent or survivor benefits
- Inheritance rights
- Veteran's benefits
- Life and health insurance benefits
How is Paternity Established?
A man is presumed to be a child's legal father if he and his wife are legally married.
In all other cases, paternity must be established in one of two ways;
- Acknowledgment of Paternity, or
- Court Order
An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a form that you can complete at the hospital right after your baby is born. You can also complete the form at any Department of Social Services office and at the Department of Public Health, in Hartford. When this form is filed, the Department of Public Health will add your name to the Birth Certificate.
If one or both parents do not want to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or the parents disagree about the identity of the father, a court order can also establish paternity. Your local Department of Social Services, Office of Child Support Services can help you with this process.
The Department of Social Services, Office of Child Support Services can help schedule a DNA test with or without going to court. Samples taken from the mother, the child, and the possible father are sent to a lab for testing. A form of positive identification is required and the test may be free of charge. Please contact your local DSS office to request more information.