Establishing paternity refers to the legal identification of the father of a child born to unmarried parents. Paternity can be established in two ways. The first way is for the father of the child to sign what is known as an "Acknowledgment of Paternity" at the hospital at the time of birth (or at a later date). The second way to establish paternity is for the mother or father to file a paternity petition in Family Court. Once Paternity is established by a DNA test, the Court will issue an "Order of Filiation" that names the man as the father of a child.
Once paternity is established, the father has the right to seek custody of the child, the right to seek visitation with the child, and the responsibility of paying child support. It also establishes the right to be consulted in adoption or other legal proceedings concerning the child.
The child who is the subject of the Acknowledgment of Paternity or Order of Filiation now has the right to child support; the right to inherit from the father under intestacy laws, or to share in any claim for wrongful death of the parent; the right to Social Security dependant's benefits if the father dies or becomes disabled; qualification as a dependant under family health insurance policies available to the father; and the additional protection of another parent with the ability to assert custodial rights in the event that the mother should die or become unable to care for the child.