Marriage and domestic partnership registration create a presumption of paternity when a child is born to the relationship. Unless one party disputes the paternity, that presumption is considered true. If a dispute does arise or the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, establishing or challenging paternity is important to maintain a legally enforceable bond and to preserve the rights of the father. Establishing paternity is the only way for a father to ensure he receives parenting time and is involved in important decision-making, and the child receives proper financial support.

It is becoming increasingly common for unmarried partners to have children, thus increasing the need for fathers to establish legal recognition of their biological connection to the child. It is in a child's best interest to have a relationship with their mother and father. Because the court will not allow a parent-child relationship to begin without first establishing this legal recognition, it is imperative for a potential father to start a legal action as soon as possible so he may start bonding with the child.

The next step is establishing a parenting plan, or custody schedule for the child.