Being a father is so much more than contributing to the creation of a child. It is helping that child develop into a mature and healthy adult and providing them with the love and support they need to thrive during their youth.
For many men, fatherhood can also be a source of personal pride and an important part of their self-identity. Your child could inspire you to go back to school or to push for a better career. Although you have thought of yourself as a father from the moment you learned about your child, Wisconsin may not consider you a father in a legal sense.
If you are not married to the mother of your child, then you may need to legally establish paternity to have the full rights that fathers enjoy.
How do you establish paternity?
Wisconsin law provides several methods for establishing paternity. You can acknowledge the child after you marry the mother later, even if you were not married or even engaged at the time of conception of their birth.
You and the mother can fill out a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment together either at the hospital after the birth of your child or at any point while they are still a minor. You could go to court to establish paternity or legal fatherhood.
Finally, you can request genetic testing and use those results to affirm your fatherhood. Genetic testing is often the last resort for those who can not establish paternity with the cooperation of the mother. Even if the mother does not want to acknowledge you or grant you parental rights, when you go to court to establish your parentage, you can then ask for visitation or shared custody.
Wisconsin fathers play an important role
Your child will be happier and likely healthier because of your involvement in their life. Until you establish paternity, you will have a hard time asserting your rights to time with your children or authority and making decisions about that.
When you go to court or fill out the necessary paperwork to establish paternity, you will have a much more straightforward path for shared custody of your children. Learning more about Wisconsin family law rules can help you navigate complicated situations affecting your relationships with the people you love the most.