An unwed mother is usually the sole legal custodian of a child born out of wedlock. But while the maternal connection is almost always a certainty from birth, paternity is another issue. An unwed father has legal rights and obligations to an illegitimate child only if paternity has been acknowledged.
- The best evidence of paternity is the birth certificate where an Affidavit of Acknowledgment and consent is signed by the father at the time of birth before the child is discharged from the hospital or birthing center.
- If the birth certificate has not been registered immediately after being discharged from the hospital, the Affidavit can still be signed and filed as “Late Registration” with the appropriate Civil Registrar and National Statistics Office. The NSO and Civil Registrar usually charge additional fees for late registration.
- If paternity is in issue, a paternity test is advised. But the problem with this step is the high cost of paternity testing in the Philippines. With fees reaching almost a hundred thousand pesos, an unsure father will find himself asking the noble question, “Can I accept the child as my own regardless of the outcome of the paternity test? If so, then why even bother with the expensive test?” In the United States, the local Child Support Enforcement office usually gives access to DNA testing at a minimal fee (less than a hundred dollars) and with results out in eleven working days. Blood samples are no longer taken in the U.S. A DNA sample is taken by merely “swabbing” the mouth of the subjects.
- Once paternity has been settled, a father can be obliged to provide child support while the child’s mother can be compelled to enter into negotiations for reasonable visitation in the dad’s favor.