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What to do if your child was born before you got married

If you and a child's mother are married when the child is born, it's typically assumed that the child is yours. Naturally, this could be wrong in some cases, but it's most often true.

However, your rights as a father could be in jeopardy if you and the mother are not married and your child is born. Then, the assumption that you're the father won't be made, and you need to prove it. What should you do?

In some cases, this is quite easy. You can get an acknowledgment of paternity form, fill it out, and turn it in to the court. This can be done when the child is born or sometime after that birth. For unmarried couples who are together and who agree on the child's paternity, this is an easy step to take -- though still a necessary one from a legal standpoint.

If there is a dispute over who the child's real father is, more steps may need to be taken. The most common is simply to get a DNA test. This paternity test can show if the child is yours or not. If it is, you can then work to legally establish your rights as a father.

It's very important to know what to do in cases like this, as you will not have these rights if you do nothing. Never assume that you get legal rights just because you think you're the father, no matter how sure you are. It must be officially established. If you want to be involved in your child's life, make sure you know how to prove that you should be, and then you'll have rights that the mother cannot violate.

Source: FIndLaw, "Child Visitation, Child Custody and Unmarried Fathers," accessed Oct. 04, 2016

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