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Step 1: Establish Paternity

Establishing paternity is a legal way of identifying the father of a child born to unmarried parents. This is important for both the father and the mother, and for your child's future. If the child's mother is not married when the child is born, the child does not have a legal father. If you weren't married to your child's father when s/he was born, either the father or the mother can take steps to establish paternity. The process may begin at any time, until the child becomes an adult.

Establishing paternity gives a child born outside of marriage the same legal rights as a child born to married parents. Children with legal fathers are entitled to benefits through their fathers that may include Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits and inheritance rights. Children may also benefit by knowing their biological family's cultural, medical, and biological history.

How to Establish Paternity
There are three ways to establish legal paternity:

1. Get married.

2. Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment form or Parentage/Paternity Affidavit.

3. Go to court.

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