The moment you found out you were going to be a dad you probably were a little bit overwhelmed. You knew fatherhood was a big job. You may have had some doubts that you were ready for it, even when you found out the child was a boy. You knew you didn’t plan on marrying your child’s mother right away and wondered how that would impact your relationship with your child too.

However, now that your child has arrived and you’ve had time to adjust, you may want to spend more time with him. You even may want to pursue a formal child custody agreement.

If you aren’t listed as your child’s father on his birth certificate, you first will need to establish your paternity. You can complete this in the following ways:

  1. You complete a DNA test to prove you are the child’s father.
  2. You have the child’s mother sign a sworn statement before a witness that you are the child’s father. This is called an affidavit of parentage.

Once you have either of these completed, you can file a civil action to establish paternity. An experienced family law attorney can help you do that.

Establishing paternity has several benefits. These include the following:

  1. You can have a legal custody agreement for your child.
  2. You can add your child to your health insurance.
  3. The state will consider your child as your heir if you pass away suddenly. This includes qualifying your child to any of your estate assets and Social Security benefits.
  4. Your child can receive any of your military benefits if you pass away.
  5. You can have access to information on any legal proceedings about your child, as well as medical records, school records and more.

One thing to keep in mind if you decide to establish paternity, you will have to commit to paying child support and maintaining a strong relationship with your child. Both of those are big responsibilities, but they will benefit your child greatly over the years.