When you have a child and aren't married, the first thing that you should note is that you won't automatically be assumed to be the father. It's important for you to establish paternity for several reasons, but the most important is that you will secure your rights as a parent.
Proving paternity guarantees that you have the right to visitation and custody of your child, barring any unique circumstances. It also does a few things for your child, such as allowing them to access your medical history and providing them with the right to child support, death benefits and other forms of benefits you may receive.
Should you voluntarily establish paternity?
If you're not married when your child is born, it's a smart idea to establish paternity and confirm that you are the father. You have the ability to voluntarily establish paternity or to seek a DNA test prior to establishing paternity.
If you are there when your child is born, you may sign a Declaration of Paternity. If not, you can complete an Affidavit of Paternity at any point before your child reaches the age of 18.
If you're not 100% certain that the child is yours, then you may want to wait to establish paternity until after you get a DNA test. There are DNA tests available that can be taken prior to your child's birth, but the least-invasive tests take place after birth. Usually, results are available within a day or two, and at that point, you can sign or refuse to sign the birth certificate.
What happens if the mother doesn't want to allow a DNA test?
If the mother of the child doesn't want to permit a DNA test, you can petition the court. When you do so, you should explain why you believe you're the father of the child and that you would like the court to order a DNA test. With the right support, your request should be approved, and the mother may be ordered to allow the test to move forward. Your attorney can help you file a request with the court if you're having trouble seeking a DNA test voluntarily.