Married or not, both parents have rights and responsibilities. No matter what the relationship is between mother and father – married or unmarried, living together or separated, friendly or hostile – both parents have legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to their child.
What does that really mean? It means that both parents have the legal right to enjoy time with their child, to help raise their child, to share in all the major life decisions affecting the child such as religion, education, medical care, and more. It also means both parents have the legal responsibility to financially support the child and to assist with the child’s expenses.
But before any of those rights can be enjoyed (or imposed by the court), paternity needs to be established. The easiest and most common way is for the parents’ names to be listed on the child’s birth certificate. This is done at the hospital upon the baby’s birth. If it is not done at that time, the name can be added later through local and state offices.
In cases where there is a dispute about who the father is, the court can order DNA testing to establish paternity. The results of the test are usually binding. The tests, which are conducted in New Hampshire, vary in cost and the time it takes to get results. Costs for DNA testing are usually borne by one or both parents.