is the social and legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship
between a father and his child.
At common law,
a child born to the wife during the marriage is presumed to
be the husband's child, as determined by law. This well-settled
concept is the "presumption of lawful paternity",
and assigns to the husband complete rights, duties and obligations
as to the child, regardless of whether he is the biological
parent or not. The presumption, however, can be rebutted by
evidence to the contrary, at least before a court issues a
formal adjudication of paternity in the husband's favor, or
a duty of support is established by a decree of divorce, annulment,
or legal separation. Jurisdictions differ widely on whether,
when, and under what circumstances a judgment establishing
paternity or a support obligation founded on the presumption
can be set aside on the grounds that the husband was not in
fact the father.
In the case
of an unwed mother a man may come forward and accept the paternity
of the child, the mother may petition the court for a determination
if she can identify the likely candidate(s) or paternity can
be determined by estoppel over time.
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resources to understand the subject of paternity.