Beyond the Birth Certificate: Establishing Your Legal Parental Right

Written by Law Offices Of Lynda Latta on . Posted in Blog

After the birth of a baby, the names of the father and mother are placed on the birth certificate. However, this does not always mean both the mother and father are the legal parents. Sometimes a person must exert legal influence to claim true parentage.

Here’s what you need to know about establishing your legal parental right.

What Is a Parentage Claim?

A paternity claim is a legal proceeding that seeks to officially declare a man to be the father of a minor. Only someone with good reason to make a parentage claim may do so. Most of the time one of four entities can begin a claim:

  • The father
  • The mother
  • The child
  • The state

In many cases, the father is the one to seek a parentage claim.

Why Make a Parentage Claim?

There are a variety of reasons someone makes a parentage claim. Usually the reason depends on the person or entity that files.


A mother might want to establish parentage in order to strengthen the likelihood she will receive child support. She can also request survivor or dependent benefits for her child from the Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration if the father received any.

In addition, she might be looking for a copy of the father’s medical history in order to:

  • Discover possible hereditary diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Use a genetic profile to navigate better cancer treatment plans.

The mother can also make a claim to assist negotiation of custody and visitation.


A child may want a parentage claim simply to find out who their true biological father is. Doing so allows them the opportunity to inherit if their father dies. A child can also acquire life and health insurance coverage from both parents.


The state that represents the minor may request a parentage claim if the state wants reimbursement for any public assistance the child receives. Assistance might come in the form of medical or welfare support.


A father files a parentage claim for several reasons. If he is not married to the mother, then he may want to establish parentage so he can:

  • Begin an emotionally and psychologically healthy relationship with his child
  • Receive visitation rights
  • Challenge the mother for custody if she is unfit
  • Help his child with medical insurance coverage
  • Elect his child as his legal beneficiary after his death

If a married man has reason to believe he is not the biological father of the child in question, he might file a parentage claim.

How Do I File a Parentage Claim?

You can start your parentage claim once you file a paternity action in family court. When a judge is assigned, the opposing party is served a summons. If a father files a claim, the opposing party is usually the mother, and vice versa. The suit continues to court if the opposing party chooses to dispute the claim.

When confusion regarding the biological father versus a presumed father arises, the court can require a DNA test. A legal DNA test is different from tests you conduct at home. An at-home DNA test is not official and cannot prove beyond question whose DNA is used to determine genetic information.

If a mother is uncertain who the biological father is, the court may request the mother, father, and child all submit to a DNA test. Most disputes are easily settled after test results are presented to the judge.

You may have your own reason to file a parentage claim, but all parentage claims are important because they can involve parents and children who already have a relationship.

Begin your first step toward establishing the rightful parentage of a child or yourself; visit our professional, caring team at the Law Offices of Lynda Latta LLC.