The rights of fathers in relationship to their children are protected by an important body of laws and legal practices. Many issues come under the header of paternity law, including laws regarding married and unmarried fathers and children that may or may not be theirs. Uncertainty regarding the paternity of a child may be settled in the court, and the results can impact issues ranging from child support, visitation rights, inheritance, and legal right to surname.

When a child is born to a married mother, common law assumes that they are the child of the woman’s husband. This is known as “presumption of paternity” or “presumption of legitimacy.” Paternity testing may be used to conclusively settle disputes or doubts over paternity.

Legal counsel, which can mediate the process of paternity disputes, is an important way for all parties involved to ensure that they are fairly represented and their rights are preserved.