For a Maryland court to award you custody of your child, the state must recognize you as the legal father of your son or daughter. This may not be a problem if you and your spouse were in a marital union during the birth of your child. Otherwise, you may need to sign an Affidavit of Parentage.
As an unmarried father, you should supply evidence that you have a familial relationship with your child. Signing an Affidavit of Parentage gives the state a legal finding of your paternity.
Sign in a hospital
According to the state Department of Human Services, you could sign an Affidavit of Parentage in the hospital shortly after the birth of your child. By doing so, the hospital staff can witness your signing and send the document to the state Division of Vital Records. An early signing can make sure your name is on the birth certificate of your child.
Sign at home
It is possible to take the affidavit home, sign it there, and then send it to the Division of Vital Records. However, you and the mother of your child must allow a notary public to witness your respective signings of the affidavit.
Sign sometime later
You could sign the affidavit sometime in the future, even years later. However, you must do so before your child turns 18 years old. Additionally, you may want to establish paternity as soon as possible in case another person claims to be the father of your child. You may need to undergo a genetic test or even take the case to court to resolve the issue.
The sooner the state recognizes you as a legal father, the sooner you can begin to raise your child and give your offspring love and support.