When unmarried couples have a child, the law doesn’t automatically assume the child’s parentage. You have to establish paternity to ensure a legal relationship between the parent and the child. Establishing paternity bestows numerous benefits to both the parents and the child. Below are some of the areas these benefits cover.
Identity and Relationship
If you are the father, establishing paternity allows you to confirm your relationship with your child. The confirmation will help establish your child’s identity. Many children wish to know their legal parents, even if they already have other adults in their lives (such as stepparents).
Many parents also want to know whether the children in their lives are their legal responsibility. When you establish paternity, you give yourself closure and clarify your legal relationship to your child. For example, established paternity allows you to change the child’s last name to reflect their legal father’s last name.
Visitation and Custody
You don’t necessarily have custody of or visitation rights for your child simply because you identify as their father. This custody law is especially true if you never cohabited with the mother of the child. You need to establish paternity to get those legal rights.
Establish paternity even if you are currently on good terms with the mother and visit with the child. Circumstances might change, or the mother might want to relocate with the child in the future. Visitation and custody rights can save you in such a situation. Established paternity also means the other parent requires your approval in many cases if they wish to relocate with the child.
If you are the mother and the custodial parent, then you may need to establish paternity to get child support. Say the noncustodial parent has refused to provide child support, or they only make sporadic payments. Once you prove paternity, you can get the court to force the noncustodial parent to pay child support.
If you are the father and the noncustodial parent, you might have to establish paternity to get the other parent to accept child support. Don’t forget that child support is the child’s right. Even the noncustodial parent cannot refuse support on behalf of the child.
Say you are on bad terms with the custodial parent, and they don’t want anything from you. Once you establish paternity and the court orders child support, the custodial parent will have no option but to accept the support.
Children have the right to inherit their parent’s property. Minors often have the right to inherit their parent’s property, whether they have included them in their will or not. The minor’s rights hold even if the parent doesn’t have a will. Adult children don’t have the same rights, but they can contest a will, especially if they think their exclusion was accidental.
However, any child not named in a will must prove their relationship to the deceased parent first. Establishing paternity is a good way to provide this proof.
Established paternity can also help a child get government benefits. For example, minors have the right to financial support from their parents. For example, a parent that is disabled after a car accident might struggle to raise the necessary support.
The government provides certain benefits, such as Social Security, for such cases. The child may benefit from such government assistance if they have a proven relationship with the affected parent.
Establish your child’s paternity as soon as possible. You never know when something might happen that requires paternity proof. Consult the Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC, to help you with paternity and other family law issues. We have over 20 years of experience in the family law industry. You can rely on our skills, experience, and discretion.