Paternity is the determination of the identity of the father of a child from a legal standpoint. There are multiple methods that can be used to make such a determination and numerous misconceptions that people may have regarding the establishment and significance of paternity.
Paternity of a child can be established voluntarily or involuntarily. Voluntary methods of determining paternity include a child being born to a married couple, a child is born to an unmarried couple that later marries and signs legitimation papers or does not marry but voluntarily acknowledges paternity, or the couple decides to marry and the father places his name on the child's birth certificate. Involuntary establishment of paternity can be accomplished if a mother files a paternity action against the purported father. The man will then likely be ordered to undergo genetic testing to determine the accuracy of the mother's assertion.