Most jurisdictions automatically assume that a mother is the bona fide parent of the child born to them; however, they don’t look at fathers the same way. Like Maryland, many states have a process that dads must follow to establish their paternity and thus be able to enjoy their full parental rights. There are two primary ways to establish paternity in this state.
One way to establish paternity in Maryland is by filling out an Affidavit of Parentage form. You can fill this legal document while you’re still at the hospital or complete it at home and send it to the Division of Vital Records. You and the child’s other parent will both have to sign the form in front of a notary public if you decide to complete the form once you arrive back home instead of at the hospital.
Dads cannot turn in an Affidavit of Parentage if the child’s mother is in a marriage with someone else at the time of the child’s conception or birth. State officials also discourage moms from signing this legal document if they’re unsure of who their child’s father is. State officials urge any dad who questions their paternity to engage in genetic testing and seek out an attorney’s guidance before they sign this affidavit. Maryland sees this document as a legal finding of paternity once a dad places his signature on it.
An alternative option for establishing paternity in Maryland is for a dad to undergo genetic testing. It’s not uncommon for a judge to order deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing in instances in which a dad is unwilling to accept a child as their own. A judge may enter a court order affirming paternity depending on the genetic testing results.
It’s possible for a person who signed an Affidavit of Parentage to rescind the legal document. Other extraordinary circumstances may warrant a prospective dad contesting parentage as well. A family law attorney who has experience in handling paternity cases is who you’ll want representing you in your Prince George’s County legal matter if you want to ensure that you receive the fairest shake in your case.