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Get the responsibility you want with a paternity test

It's not always easy to determine who the father of a child is; sometimes, the mother won't want the DNA test completed or doesn't want to comply since she and the father aren't getting along or aren't dating or seeing each other. If that's what's happening in your case but you want to establish paternity, then you have every right to demand that the test is given. Seeking a court order to legally establish your fatherhood will allow you to be part of your child's life.

Once paternity is established, you'll have all the traditional rights of a parent. You can seek custody and visitation rights, and you'll also be responsible for caring for your child or paying child support. You may be able to work to limit the amount of support you pay, too, in exchange for seeing your child more often or taking on greater responsibilities.

The court will always rule in the best interests of the child, but even if you've never been able to participate in your child's life before now, you'll still be able to request a parenting plan and visitation rights. The court will review your request, and if it feels you're an able parent, you should be granted at least some rights to visitation.

While paternity cases can turn into child custody battles, it's important to remember that you have to establish your relation to the child first. Start by taking a DNA test and getting a court order for the child in question to be tested. Doing this early in the child's life can help you be a part of his or her childhood from the start.

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