In most states, if a person is named as the father on a child’s birth certificate, then they are considered the legal father for all intents and purposes. The presumption of paternity (i.e., a legal term that essentially means to assume they are the father) is very strong. For example, if the father is married to the mother at the time of conception or birth then many states presume that he is the father of the child. 

Thus, if the person who is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate and wants to either assert their rights or challenge their legal status to the child, they must do so as soon as possible. 

This is because there have been cases where DNA tests were conducted, and the results conclusively proved that the person who was named on the child’s birth certificate was not in fact the actual father. 

Yet, despite the DNA results, a court still imposed all of the mandatory legal obligations upon the person named on the birth certificate, instead of on the true biological father. 

This means that although they were not really the father, the court gives greater weight to the name assigned on a birth certificate than on the DNA results, and consequently, that person could be liable for duties, such as paying child support.

What Rights Does a Father Have If They are Named on a Birth Certificate?

Overall, as far as the rights go for someone named as the father on a birth certificate, they are given all of the same rights that a biological father has, which includes:

  • Child Custody;
  • Child Support and Visitation Rights
  • Rights to consent to adoption; 
  • Rights to make important legal decisions for the child (e.g., educational, medical, and spiritual upbringing); and 
  • Various other parental rights

In general, if the father has already signed the birth certificate, it is very difficult for that person to claim that they are not the actual father.  

Alternatively, even if the person on the birth certificate is not the actual father, but the court decides they are legally responsible, then all of the above rights just mentioned will be this person’s responsibility. 

Therefore, for all of these reasons, it is extremely important that a person challenge or refuse to sign a birth certificate if they do not believe they are the rightful father. Otherwise, the results could end up not only costing the person a lot to prove they are really not responsibly, but also these types of proceedings could end up hurting the child and its future. 

How Long Does Someone Have to Challenge the Paternity of the Father?

While the laws vary widely from state to state, in many states, there is a short statute of limitations for challenging paternity. Thus, if the man who is named on the birth certificate wishes to challenge this legal status, they usually only have two years or less—starting from the birth of the child—to do so. 

If a person fails to challenge paternity within this time frame, that person can lose all rights to do so at a later a date. This is especially true if he simultaneously acts as a father to the child in the meantime by doing activities, such as living with the mother and the child, helping to raise the child, making legal decisions regarding the child, and so forth. 

In situations such as this, some courts have refused to even consider reviewing subsequent DNA evidence, on the grounds that a successful paternity challenge would go against the best interests of the child

This scenario, however, is often difficult to overcome because the father is now involved with the child from both an emotional and practical standpoint. Thus, if a person suspects they are not the true father of the child, the best way to avoid this situation is for them to refuse to put their name on the birth certificate and to insist on getting a paternity test. 

Although this may be the best way to avoid the hardship, it may also place a strain on whatever relationships already exists with the mother, because it implies that she has been unfaithful. Still, it is one of the most effective ways to deter becoming legally responsible as the father for someone else’s child.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help with Issues Regarding a Father’s Rights?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding what rights a father may have, especially if they are the one named on the child’s birth certificate, then you should consider contacting a father rights lawyer immediately. 

A lawyer can provide counsel regarding the various rights associated with being named the legal father. Additionally, hiring a lawyer can also prove to be a valuable asset when it comes to needing representation in court for paternity hearings and other related proceedings.