Paternity & Legitimation
If you are the father of a child that was born out of wedlock, there are two procedures to establish your parental rights to the child: paternity and legitimation. Both actions will ensure that your parental and custodial rights to the child will be protected.
Although a paternity action may be initiated by the father, it is a proceeding more frequently used in child support proceedings, and is usually initiated by the mother of the child to establish a child support obligation. You may establish paternity by filing an action in court to have the court judicially establish paternity, or by executing an affidavit of paternity, which must be executed by both the mother and the father. Once paternity is established, you are judicially determined to be the father and your custodial rights to the child are protected.
A legitimation proceeding is initiated by the father, and is frequently used to ensure that the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate and that the child is entitled to all the rights and benefits that flow from the parent-child relationship, including inheritance rights. A legitimation action may be initiated after the child’s 18th birthday; a paternity action can only be initiated while the child is under 18 years old.