Paternity is the legal word for fatherhood. If there’s a disagreement about whether a man is the father of a child, the Family Court can help decide who is the father.
There are 2 ways the court can do this:
a mother can ask the court to make a Paternity Order to say that a man is her child’s father
a person can ask the court to make a Declaration of Paternity to declare that a man is (or is not) a child’s father
When a man is legally declared a child’s father, he can apply for guardianship of the child and to have contact with the child. He may also have to pay child support, or have other responsibilities to the child.
Generally a man is considered a child’s father if:
the child was born while he was married to the child’s mother, or up until 10 months after they divorced (this presumption of fatherhood can be disputed in court)
he’s named on the birth certificate (this presumption of fatherhood can be disputed in court)
he and the mother signed a Deed of Acknowledgement of Paternity in front of a solicitor