If the mother is not married at the time of a child's birth, a father wishing to establish legal paternity must legally acknowledge the child as his own. In some states, this may be as simple as filing a form with the birth certificate. In other states, it may require a full court proceeding similar to an adoption. If the mother agrees that he is the father, a man seeking to acknowledge the child as his own usually does not have to prove that he is the biologic father to be declared the legal father of the child. If more than one man seeks to acknowledge the child or if the mother refuses to recognize the man as the father of the child, the courts in most states may order blood tests to determine paternity.States also provide for the testing of potential fathers who do not voluntarily acknowledge their children. These lawsuits may be brought by the mother or by the state on behalf of the child. It is common for the state to require an unmarried woman seeking public assistance to identify the father (if known) of her children. While a state is free to establish a stricter standard of proof, the U.S. Supreme Court has found that it is constitutional to establish paternity with a preponderance of the evidence standard. By allowing this less strict standard of proof than the standard required for termination of parental rights, the courts recognize the strong societal interest in the legitimation of children. Once the court rules that a man is the legal father of the child, the man has the same rights and duties regarding the child as would the husband of the mother. Rivera v. Minnich. 506 A2d 879 (1986).
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