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Paternity: Necessary for determining your place as a father

In Virginia and other states, determining paternity is an important step in your future as a parent. Paternity legally establishes your rights as the father of a child.

Unlike a child's biological mother, who is usually easy to identify except for in some rare circumstances, a father may be more difficult to determine. DNA may need to be used to establish paternity in cases where the father is uncertain. Making sure to know the correct father of a child is important not only for the value of the relationship, but also because the child can then access medical records and medical histories of the family, can be included in inheritances, and will be entitled to child support.

DNA testing was a major breakthrough when it began. That's because it was finally possible to identify with a high certainty the father of a child. The use of DNA testing prevents many potential fathers from facing child support claims in cases where a child isn't theirs, while it also helps mothers identify and hold others accountable for the support they owe to a child. DNA testing can also help a father verify that he is, indeed, the father of a child he is supporting.

As a father of a child, you may wish to have your DNA tested to verify your relationship to your child. Genetically, you must be biologically related to your child to have immediate rights to being a father. Otherwise, you and your spouse will have to get the approval of the biological father for you to take over that role. You could do so with an adoption or have your own name on the birth certificate in some instances. Each child's situation may be different, so your attorney can help walk you through your rights as a father.

Source: FindLaw, "Paternity: Introduction," accessed Dec. 02, 2015

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