The paternity of a child can have a great impact emotionally, financially and otherwise on a child, which is why it is important for parents to understand how it is determined. There are significant legal implications and rights that are associated with a legal determination of paternity that can have an impact on the child and the parents.
Paternity is assumed when the child’s parents are married at the time of the child’s birth. For unmarried parents, the situation is different. They will need to establish paternity and be prepared for the impact it has on child custody, child support, inheritance and other concerns as well. Establishing paternity can also have emotional significance for the child and parents and can entitle the child to other benefits and access to health history records and other important information.
If the child’s parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, paperwork can be filled out immediately after the birth and filed with a court voluntarily acknowledging paternity. Another option is to file a paternity lawsuit with the court, which will allow DNA testing for the presumptive father and child to be ordered. Either the child’s mother or the presumptive father can bring a paternity action to seek the court’s help ordering a paternity test and establishing paternity.
Once paternity has been legally established, the parents can begin to work out concerns about child custody and child support. The family law legal process provides tools to help parents with paternity concerns, as well as child custody and child support concerns, which is why they should be familiar with how these resources work and can help them with their family-related concerns.