There are several ways for the parents to establish paternity:
1) Legitimize the child through the parents getting married;
2) An Acknowledgment of Paternity signed by both parents at the hospital.
3) A Court order from a judge.
If either (1) or (2) above do not occur, then the parties must get a Court order of paternity. Neither the father nor the mother has to wait until a parental relationship deteriorates to protect their parental rights and the rights of the child/children. In fact, solidifying both parents' rights before a potential relationship breakdown can not only protect both parents, but most importantly, the child/children from unnecessary stress if the parental relationship does unfortunately deteriorate. Solidifying the parental rights of both parents at this point is often quick, much less expensive and significantly less stressful.
If a non-marital parental relationship deteriorates between the parents of a minor child/children, one parent may prevent contact or interaction between either parent and the child/children. In such a case, one parent may need to pursue an establishment of paternity through the Courts in order to have access to certain rights.
It is important for both the father and the mother to understand that being the biological father of a child does not necessarily provide inherent rights to the father as with a married father. Attorney W. Matthew Kowtko, Esq. can help develop an individualized strategy to protect your parental rights whether you are still with the other parent or the relationship has ended.