Being a "legal parent"

Legal recognition can give important rights to your children. It is the first step to getting child support.

What is it?

It's a process called "establishing parentage."  It means the law recognizes someone as the parent of a child. 

How the state defines a "legal parent."

How does it benefit my family?

When you are considered a "legal parent," you and your child get certain rights they might not otherwise. 

Benefits for children

  • Being able to spend time with either parent, legally
  • Financial support from more than one parent
  • Health and life insurance coverage from either parent
  • Legal right to any inheritance 
  • Family benefits through veteran or pension plans

Benefits for parents

  • Financial support from a parent who may not have custody
  • Right for ask for help with costs from birth and pregnancy
  • The right to legal visitation, or parenting time
  • The right to ask for forms of custody

Parents don't have to live in the same state or country to be recognized as legal parents.

What do I need to do?

If you or the other parent need to be legally recognized as a parent to your child, you can:

  • Request a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP), or
  • Get a court order

The first option is free. It involves both parents filling out a form with the help of our office.  

The second option, going to court, can be expensive. Sometimes families need to go to court to get legal recognition. 

Learn more at Get recognized as a legal parent.

Last updated October 27, 2022