If you are a father seeking legal rights to a child born out of wedlock, there are only a few ways you can obtain a Child Legitimation:
Drawbacks to this are:
- This is NOT legal legitimation. Only a court can create a legal relationship between you and the child.
- You may need to file this form more than once.
- You will not be placed on the child’s birth certificate; and
- Your name will be removed from the registry once the child turns 18.
This has serious inheritance implications if either of you dies without a Will.
The major drawback to the father is that this does NOT create any enforceable rights of custody or visitation, although it does create the obligation of Child Support.
You can only file a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity during the child’s FIRST YEAR OF LIFE.
The benefit of this is that your name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate, but the child’s last name will not necessarily become your last name.
Because your name will be on the child’s birth certificate, and you will therefore be considered the legal father of the child, you will each be able to inherit from the other, in the event of death without a Will.
The law SAYS that this will render the child legitimate, and that the child will automatically take your last name.
The problem is… who’s to know that it happened so that “automatic” actions happen “automatically?”
I would suggest following this up with filing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity so that the court actually has knowledge.
- You waited more than a year after the child was born; or
- The mother refuses to cooperate with your claim that you are the child’s biological father; or
- You want actual, enforceable rights of child custody and visitation to develop a relationship with your child.
As a father, why should you pursue Child Legitimation?
There are a number of reasons why you should:
- Inheritance rights – you and the child will be able to inherit from each other in the event one of you dies without a Will.
- Child Custody – the mother has sole custody of a child born out of wedlock, and the father has no legal rights whatsoever.
- Child Visitation – prior to Child Legitimation, the mother has exclusive discretion in who may spend time with her child. If your legal relationship to the child has not been established, you have no legal right whatsoever to force the mother to grant you access to the child.
- Placement of the child with a family member on the father’s side if the mother becomes unable to care for the child.
- The child’s right to obtain medical history on the father’s side, if necessary.
From the State…
In certain circumstances, the State, through the Division of Child Support Services, may step in and file an administrative Petition for Legitimation on their own, with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The father can demand a trial in superior court, and an administrative determination of paternity has the same legal effect as a judicial decree.
In all cases, a court examining a Petition for Legitimation or a challenge to an Acknowledgement of Paternity CAN deny Legitimation or Paternity if it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
The Trial Lawyers of The NA Firm
We stand ready to fight for your rights as a father, and to help you establish the legal relationship you need with your child.