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Do unwed Louisiana fathers really need a paternity test?

Having a child -- whether married or not -- is typically a joyous occasion in the lives of parents. Many Louisiana parents love to show off their new family additions and are proud to claim them. However, for unwed fathers, simply saying they are the father is not enough to enforce the legal rights that go along with having a child. This makes establishing paternity a must for fathers, but also for their children.

The benefits available to a child such as Social Security, insurance coverage and an inheritance are not automatic for a child of unmarried parents. In addition, without formally establishing paternity, a biological father may not have access to important medical information, make medical decisions or provide medical information that could affect the child's health. If the father and the child's mother separate, a legal recognition of paternity allows for the resolution of custody, visitation and support issues.

Most states, including Louisiana, allow a biological father to acknowledge paternity at the time of the child's birth. An Acknowledgement of Paternity form is submitted with the birth certificate, which also lists the man as the father. When done at this time, the need for any DNA testing is often eliminated.

However, if the parents fail to submit this form at birth, it might be necessary to file a paternity action in order to gain legal recognition as a biological father. If this is needed, it would be beneficial to contact an attorney to help ensure that the process is completed properly. This way, mother, father and child can rest easy knowing that their relationship is recognized by law and that the father and child receive all of the rights and responsibilities that encompasses.

Source: americanpregnancy.org, "Paternity Testing", Accessed on May 1, 2017

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