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Paternity means the legal relationship of father and child. Paternity is presumed where a man is married to a woman who gives birth, and it can also be established through a petition to the court by either the mother or the man in question. All states also allow an unmarried father to sign a voluntary declaration of his paternity at the time the child is born, with the agreement of the mother. If he does declare paternity this way, it’s the same as if a court entered a judgment of paternity. Paternity gives the father rights of custody and visitation, as well as the obligation to support the child. 

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