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The significance of determining paternity

Establishing paternity is important for fathers, children and families. When a couple is married at the time of child's birth, the paternity of the child is presumed. While the husband is assumed to be the father of the child if the couple is married when the child is born, there is no similar presumption of paternity if the parents are unmarried. It is important for unmarried couples to establish paternity of a child for a variety of reasons and it may be necessary for married couples to challenge the paternity of a child.

Establishing paternity has important implications for child custody, child support, inheritance purposes, health concerns and for other reasons as well. Parents may voluntarily acknowledge paternity or it can be established by filing a paternity suit. The mother of a child or the putative father of the child can file a paternity action to determine the paternity of a child.

To determine paternity, the court can order a DNA test for the putative father and the child. Once paternity has been determined, the court enters an order establishing paternity and then the family law process can help the parents with child custody, visitation and child support concerns. The father will be obligated to pay child support which is generally set according to the state's guidelines.

Establishing paternity provides many legal and emotional benefits for children and families alike, which is why it is an important legal resource available through the family law system. It is helpful for parents to be familiar with the process of determining paternity and how family law resources can help them.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "Chronology: Establishing Paternity," Accessed Jan. 5, 2017

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