Confirming you are the legal father of a child can have a significant impact on the lives of the child, you and the mother. It can affect a child’s right to health insurance, family medical history and inheritance, and change things such as child support, military allowances and social security.

Here are the ways you can confirm your paternity:

If you are married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth

You will be registered automatically as the father — even if you are not the biological father. If someone else is the biological father, they could be designated as the legal father under certain circumstances. Still, usually, a child is registered to the husband.

If you are not married to the mother at the time of the birth

  • An acknowledgment of paternity form: You and the mother sign this form. It needs to be witnessed by a notary or two people. Provided the mother was not married at the time of the birth, you have until your child turns 18 to file it. Your name will be added to the birth certificate.
  • Affirmation of common child form: Your name can be added to the birth certificate if you marry your child’s mother after the child is born and complete this form.
  • Administrative order of paternity: The child support program can issue this via genetic testing of the mother, father and child.
  • A court order: A judge can make the decision.

Proving paternity can be vital if trying to get child custody or visitation rights.