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I just realized I'm a dad: Can I establish paternity?

Imagine a one-night stand led to an unintended pregnancy with a woman you barely knew. Through friends, you learned about the pregnancy, but the woman denied you were the father. After the baby was born, you followed up to request a blood test, but the mother said that the baby wasn't yours and refused to submit to testing.

Some men might try to forget about an incident like this, but you're different. You want to play an active role in your child's life as the father. When circumstances like this happen, concerned fathers who want to be a part of their baby's life may be able to fight for their parental rights in court.

The easiest way for a father to establish paternity is to get the mother to agree. At any time after the birth of the child, when both parents agree on issues relating to paternity, they can fill out and sign the appropriate paperwork and submit it to the court. The name of the father will then be added to the birth certificate.

If the mother refuses to comply with a father's request to establish paternity, he may have to file a paternity lawsuit to prove his parentage. In this case, the father may need to appear in court and provide a blood sample for DNA testing. DNA tests offer clear results with 99 percent accuracy, so once this has been performed, the court will have a definitive and final answer. The father can then move forward to ask for visitation rights. Most likely, the court will also pursue a fair amount of child support for the father to contribute to the mother on a monthly basis.

If you want to prove paternity for your child, learn about the legal strategies you can employ to get the parental rights you deserve.

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