There is a biological father and a legal father. They are not always the same person.
What does it mean to be a legal father? A legal father has parental rights that he earns by being legally recognized as the child’s parent, usually through marriage or adoption. The legal father can also be granted parental rights voluntarily if no other legal or biological parent is available to take on this role.
If you’re wondering what makes someone a legal father or a biological father, read more below.
Legal Father Definition
A legal father is a man married to the mother at birth, or he adopted his child with her.
This legal status gives him rights to custody of a child and responsibility for support payments. If there are no other biological or legal parents available (such as missing or deceased), then this legal father will also have parental responsibilities toward his children.
Legal fathers may also have legal responsibilities toward their children. They can be forced to pay child support, and they will usually receive visitation rights. They also get legal decision-making power about important matters like school, medical care, and religious upbringing.
A Biological Father
A biological father is a man who provided half of his offspring’s DNA at birth or through artificial insemination (AI) during conception. He may not always want parental responsibility for this newborn baby.
If he does wish to take on legal paternal responsibilities, he may have three options:
- Become legally married to the mother
- Adopt his own biological child
- Agree voluntarily sign up for legal paternity under an Acknowledgment of Paternity form
In legal terms, this biological father does not automatically get legal rights. He must take action for custody and support rules or laws to apply towards him.
If a man marries his wife before her baby is born, the husband becomes that newborn’s legal father. And that’s whether they have had artificial insemination or intercourse during conception.
However, if there was no marriage between them, only AI fathers have legal rights to that child. In other words, it’s not enough to be the biological father of a newborn for legal status.
What Should You Do If Faced With a Paternity Issue?
If you have legal rights as a father to your child, then the court will support those rights. You do not need a legal paternity test for that law to recognize your legal fatherhood just as easily.
Biological tests can be done when there’s doubt about parentage. Or if one of the parties involved is refusing to acknowledge their responsibilities during divorce proceedings.
Biological tests are also a legal requirement when the legal father is being held responsible for child support but denies paternity.
In some states, biological fathers can voluntarily sign up to be legally recognized as well. This usually takes place before or after birth, and it requires DNA testing (or other proof of parentage) beforehand.
But paternity issues are not always straightforward, and that’s why you need a lawyer. For all paternity issues in California, you can call this paternity suit attorney.
Legal Father Not Biological
Legal fatherhood and biological parenthood are not the same. A legal father has rights that he earns through marriage or adoption, while a biological father is a genetic parent of his child.
We hope this biological father vs legal father article was helpful to you. If you need more informative content, keep reading our posts.