The short answer is no.
Establishing paternity gives a child a legal father who is then bestowed rights and obligations relating to the care of his child. Paternity can be established by the following:
- If the child was born of the mother and father’s marriage,
- If the parents are unmarried and they sign a paternity affidavit, or
- A court establishes paternity. A child’s birth certificate has little to no legal consequence, as it is not a legal document sufficient to establish paternity. If a child is not born of a marriage or the parents do not sign a paternity affidavit, a father can only ensure his rights and obligations as a parent by filing a Petition to Establish Paternity.
A Petition to Establish Paternity will need to be filed with a court to begin the process. This is sometimes referred to as a “paternity lawsuit” or “suit.” Once a paternity suit is filed, the court will determine if the alleged father is in fact the biological father of the child and then establish the rights and obligations to that father.
The alleged father can be proven to be the biological parent in a number of ways. Two typical methods of proving paternity are by agreement or genetic testing. Paternity can be simply agreed upon by the mother and father. Additionally, DNA testing, also known as genetic testing, can be used to establish paternity. DNA testing is often utilized when the parties do not agree as to the identity of the child’s father.
Parents should think of a birth certificate as a memento when it comes to the child’s paternity. Although birth certificates can be utilized as an important identification tool, it does not establish paternity. If someone believes a child’s paternity needs to be established, they should seek a qualified attorney to help them understand the benefits and obligations paternity can create.