As the father of a child, you only have automatic paternity if the mother is your spouse at the time of birth. In all other situations, you will have to go through a legal process to establish paternity.
If you and the mother are on good terms, you may feel there is no need to do this. However, establishing paternity is very important if you wish to retain parental rights to your child.
Potential to lose rights
FindLaw explains if you fail to establish paternity, you could end up losing your rights. A court could determine you do not have any rights to the child even if you can prove a biological connection. If you establish paternity, though, it is much harder for anyone else to take away your rights.
Involvement with your child
Establishing legal paternity will also allow you to ensure you can be in your child’s life. You will have the right to see your child and can secure rights to make decisions for your child. If something happens to the mother, you also would be able to gain custody of the child. If the mother wants to give up the child for adoption, having paternity allows you to step in and take the child yourself.
Establishing paternity allows you to create a better connection with your child. It prevents the mother from keeping you away from your child should your relationship end. It gives you rights within the legal system to seek custody or other access to the child. Plus, it gives your child a sense of stability because he or she will know you are the father. Your child will have the chance to know both sides of his or her family.