Paternity has many legal and emotional consequences. Fathers have certain obligations to their children but cannot perform many of those duties unless Virginia recognizes their paternity.
If you want your child to inherit from you, receive social security, share health care and receive other benefits, paternity is the easiest way. Paternity refers to a child’s legal father. If you are the biological father, you might not be the legal father entitled to fatherhood rights.
Virginia accepts four ways to establish paternity:
1. Genetic testing that shows at least a 98 percent chance of paternity
2. Marriage to the mother for at least ten months before the child’s birth
3. Voluntary acknowledgment under oath by the mother and father
4. Lawful adoption, making someone who is not the biological father the legal father
Putative fathers without paternity
Not everyone can prove their paternity through the above means. Sometimes the mother does not cooperate, or you cannot obtain a court order for whatever reason. However, every unmarried man in Virginia has access to the Virginia Birth Father Registry. According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, the registry is a confidential service that informs putative fathers about legal actions concerning their believed children. Virginia Birth Father Registry does not establish paternity, but it can tell the putative father of the child’s adoption or termination of parental rights.
Sometimes, paternity is not easy to prove. Virginia provides resources to fathers who wish to maintain a relationship with their alleged children. If you are a putative father, look into your legal rights concerning how you establish paternity.