Each state has its own laws regarding child support and paternity, but in general, a court has the discretion to order a man not named on the birth certificate to pay child support. Paternity of the father can be established after the birth. If a woman files a claim for child support through social services, the agency makes an attempt to establish paternity through DNA testing.
Not signing a child's birth certificate does not completely absolve a man from paying child support. State laws are supportive of establishing paternal custody in most cases. Social services sends the named party a legal notice to appear in court for a paternity hearing. During this hearing, the alleged father can voluntarily choose to acknowledge paternity and sign legal documentation establishing that fact. Alternatively, the court can order all parties involved to take a DNA test. If the test reveals the man is not the biological father, he is not liable for support payments.
If the alleged father fails to appear in court or refuses a DNA test, the court may still rule that he is legally responsible for child support payments. Married or unmarried women who wish to receive child support payments without the cooperation of the child's father should gather as much information on the father as possible and contact social services.