A high percentage of children in the United States are born out-of-wedlock. Legally establishing a child's father is important, and there are different paths parents can take to establish paternity in North Carolina.
When paternity is established the legal father of a child is identified. This gives both the parents and the child certain rights. A child then is eligible for some of the father's benefits, such as Social Security or Veterans benefits. The child also has a right to access to the father's medical information, and may be eligible for inclusion on the father's health insurance policy.
If a child is born out-of-wedlock, paternity must be acknowledged or proved for a North Carolina child support order to be entered. A child's legal father also has a right to seek visitation or custody of the child, and the right to be informed of legal proceedings impacting the child like adoption.
Ways to Establish Paternity
Affidavit of Parentage: Both the parents can voluntarily acknowledge paternity by completing an Affidavit of Parentage. This document can be completed at the hospital or at a later date. If either party is unsure about who the father of the child is, however, the parties should not complete this document. By signing the affidavit the father consents to his name being added to the child's birth certificate.
Paternity Action: Parents can also seek to establish paternity through the courts. Oftentimes, a child support order will be entered in conjunction with this action.
A North Carolina attorney can provide further information and guidance in filing a paternity action.
Source: North Carolina Division of Social Services, Paternity.