How to Establish Paternity

You may be reading this information because you need help finding a Virginia family law attorney who can help you establish paternity in Virginia.

Establishing Paternity in Virginia

If you are married and having a baby, the law automatically presumes that the husband is the Father of the child and the hospital will automatically put the Father’s name on the birth certificate.

If you are unmarried or your husband is not the Father, then establishing paternity becomes more difficult.

Acknowledgment of Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity is for both parties to agree to the paternity. That is, the Mother and Father are both at the hospital, after the baby is born, and acknowledge to the staff that the Father is indeed the biological Father of the child. The parties can then sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity Form, which the Hospital should have. Once both parties agree to the paternity, then the Father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate and paternity is established.

If the Father is unsure if the child is actually his, he can ask the hospital to run a paternity test after birth to verify paternity before the child leaves the hospital.

The Acknowledgement of Paternity form can also be signed after the baby leaves the hospital by visiting the Office of Vital Records or accessing the form by visiting the Virginia Office of Vital Records here: http://166.67.66.226/LHD/Vital_Records/index.htm.

The Virginia Department of Social Services also offers a free brochure available here, with facts about establishing paternity in Virginia: http://www.dss.virginia.gov/pub/pdf/dcse_paternity.pdf

What if I’m married but the Father of the child is not my husband?

If you are married, the hospital will automatically presume the husband is the Father. If he is not the father, and the biological Father is willing to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, then paternity can be established that way.

If the husband believes that he is the Father, but you believe that another man is the Father, then you must file a petition in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court moving the Court to establish paternity and overcome the presumption that a child born between husband and wife is a presumptive child of both.

What if my child is now older and I want to establish paternity?

If paternity was not established at the hospital or the biological Father was unwilling to sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form, then you need to file a petition in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. You can do this by filing for support against the Father and asking the Court to establish paternity. If the Father is denying paternity the Court will order a paternity or genetic test. Once paternity is established, the Court will then go forward with the child support suit as well.

What if the Father wants the child to have his last name?

If paternity is established after the birth certificate is completed, and the Father wants the child to have his last name, the Father has to file a petition for a name change with the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. The Mother then has the right to oppose the name change.

Why Establish Paternity

If the Father and the Mother are together, the Father most likely wants to establish his paternity. However, there are other reasons for the establishment of paternity, including:

  1. To ensure the Father’s legal rights,
  2. To collect child support from the Father,
  3. To add the name to the child’s birth certificate,
  4. To protect the Father/child relationship,
  5. To enable access to the Father’s medical history,
  6. To ensure the child’s access to the Father’s medical insurance, veteran’s benefits, Social Security, or inheritance.

Need help establishing paternity, then contact our family law attorneys to help you through the process.

Virginia Family Law Attorneys

Contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule a reduced-fee, initial consultation in our Fairfax law office with one of our Virginia Family Law attorneys. We can walk you through the steps to establish paternity to collect child support or to ensure that you, as a Father, have visitation and custodial rights to your child.

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