Does a paternity test give a father rights over a child? Does an alleged father need to establish paternal rights to give him the right to abortion or give up the child?

While the rights of a mother over her child are often straightforward and  universally acknowledged, a father’s paternity rights in the absence of marriage can be a bit more complicated. Does a paternity test give a father rights? Does this automatically apply to all cases? Here are the answers to the most common questions about paternity.

Establishing Parental Rights

In the United States, if a married couple has a baby, the husband is legally presumed to be the child’s biological father. However, if the baby is born out of wedlock, there is no legal presumption of paternity.

In this case, a proper process needs to be followed to allow the correct to assign parental obligations to the right person. Without establishing parental rights, an alleged father has no right to shared custody, visitation, and other men’s paternity rights.

Home paternity tests have helped many men around the world confirm their biological relationship (or lack thereof) with a child. Unfortunately, these test kits cannot be used for legally establishing parental rights and gaining custody.

A man who wants to establish paternity needs to go to the court, which can issue a legal paternity test. It is only a court-mandated paternity test that can legally establish a father’s paternity rights.

Can the court deny a paternity DNA test?

The process of legally establishing paternity may not run smoothly even if it is within men’s rights to have a paternity test. The court first needs to recognize reasonable grounds for paternity to be established.

Usually, the father will need to provide proof of his relationship with the child’s mother. Sometimes, a mother may refuse to submit the child’s DNA samples. Other times, a child over the legal age of consent can refuse to take the test themselves.

A Father’s Rights After Establishing Paternity

You may ask, does a paternity test give parental rights? What are my rights as a father? The good news is that legally establishing paternity also automatically establishes a father’s paternity rights. This covers all a father’s legal rights to a child such as visitation, joint or full custody, and all the responsibilities that come with it.

What rights as a dad do I have? An unmarried biological father’s rights are the same as a married father’s rights. However, unlike a married father, an unmarried man legally recognized as the child’s father can determine his preferred custody status.

For cohabitating couples, custody is often not an issue. In most cases, however, it is the court that will determine custody arrangements according to the child’s best interests. Usually, the mother will have full custody of the child and the father may have joint or shared custody or visitation rights. If the mother is recognized to be unfit to care for the child, it is within the male paternity rights to petition for full legal custody.

A Father’s Rights for Paternity Leave

Paternity can also be confirmed through a prenatal paternity test to establish a father’s paternity rights early on. Do these rights include the right to a paternity leave?

In the United States, both maternity and paternity leaves right after the child is born are regulated by the US Labor Law. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, an employee working for a company with at least 50 employees can get 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave within a year. This is currently below the World Health Organization’s recommendation, which is 16 weeks.

Paid family leave is not mandated by law; instead, the decision is up to the company’s discretion. Practices also vary by state. For example, in 2018, paternity rights in New York started including up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.

Do paternal grandparents have rights over a child?

Does a paternity test give a father rights? The answer is yes. But does this confirmation extend to the paternal grandparents as well? If so, what rights do paternal grandparents have?

If a father’s paternity rights can be legally established through a DNA test, being biologically related to the child does not automatically give grandparents visitation rights. This means that parents can legally keep grandparents — maternal or paternal — from seeing their grandchildren.

However, there are cases where grandparents may need to seek full custody of a grandchild if the child’s parents are deceased or deemed unfit to take care of the child. Grandparents may also legally seek full custody if the parents consent to it or if the child has been living with them for more than a year.

Before granting custody to the grandparents, the court needs to determine the best arrangement for the child. They will consider the child’s previous degree of contact with the grandparents, and the grandparents’ physical and financial ability to take care of the child. The court may also look into the child’s relationship with other blood relatives to exhaust all options.

What is a father legally responsible for?

A confirmation via a legal DNA paternity test does establish a father’s paternity rights, but it also means the father is now obligated to fulfill all the legal responsibilities that come with being a biological father. Even if the father opts out of parental responsibilities, a biological father cannot opt out of child support.

For separated parents, child support is a legal obligation that falls on the recognized father. The amount is set by the court and is usually determined based on the parents’ individual income levels and the child’s needs. If child support obligations are not fulfilled, the father can be jailed.

How to Give Up Paternity Rights

The only way a father can terminate his paternity rights, which include the financial obligation of paying child support, is to wait for the child to become of legal age.

There is a controversial topic surrounding a man’s paternal rights to abortion, particularly “financial abortion.” The argument is that a man who explicitly stated his preference to remain childless should be able to refuse financial responsibility for the child, just as a woman who does not want to be a mother can have the child aborted. However, the court rejects this argument because it is the child’s interests being put at stake.

Can a mother legally keep her child away from the father?

It is illegal for any parent to keep the other parent from seeing their child unless in the presence of a court order. This is because it is in the child’s best interests to have both their parents in their life.

However, the same rule may not necessarily apply to unmarried couples. Unless paternity has been established, the mother can legally keep a child away from the suspected father.

Does a paternity test give a father rights to fight against being kept away from the child? Once a legal paternity test confirms the biological relationship of a father and a child, the court can grant the father paternity rights that protect them in this situation.

Does a paternity test give a father rights?

The short answer is yes. Confirmation of paternity, established through a court-mandated legal paternity test, can grant a man the parental rights including the right to visitation, custody, and making decisions for the child’s welfare.

Establishing paternity also protects a man in case the child is being kept away from him by the mother. Of course, being granted paternity rights also means accepting all the obligations that come with being a parent.

Paternity testing will conclusively tell you whether you are the biological father or not, and results cannot be disputed even by a court of law. Your paternity rights are there to protect you.