Here’s the deal: Maternity is a matter of fact.  Paternity is a matter of opinion.  Until the genetic DNA test results have been returned.  And, until a district court judge has signed a court order.

If you are a father and you are not married to your child’s mother, you have no parental rights unless and until you have a court order that says you do.  Signing a Recognition of Parentage at birth does not give you parental rights.  Getting your name on the child’s birth certificate does not give you parental rights.  Having and paying a child support obligation does not give you parental rights.

The county can (and most likely will) initiate a proceeding to obtain child support.  This proceeding will not give you parental rights.  It will create an obligation–you will need to pay support–but this proceeding will not result in you getting either joint legal or physical custody, and it will not result in you getting parenting time.

And, if you do not have any parenting time at the time the county brings its proceeding, you will end up paying more support.  You will incur the “no parenting time” surcharge on your child support obligation that, over a period of 18 years, could result in your paying tens of thousands of dollars more than you should otherwise have to pay.

If you have a child and are not married to the child’s mother, you should hire an attorney and get your parental rights established.  A lot of guys are really stupid about this stuff.  All they can think of is saving a few dollars on attorney’s fees so they can spend it on a new set of rims for their aging sport compact car.  What they do not realize is that their economic future is being designed for them by the government, and the government isn’t doing them any favors.

Best to lawyer up now.