If you are unmarried when your child, or a child you presume to be yours, is born, establishing paternity is an important step that not only offers many benefits for the child, but also gives you certain rights to that child in the eyes of the law.
Maybe you are a mother looking to establish paternity so you can pursue a child support order against your child’s father, or perhaps you believe you fathered a child and you want rights to your son or daughter. Regardless of your reasoning for doing so, establishing paternity is beneficial to the child and necessary for unmarried fathers who wish to have a say in their child’s lives.
Benefits for the child
Every child deserves to know who his or her parents are, and this knowledge also paves the way for child support orders and provides critical information about a child’s medical history. It also allows that child to gain access to his or her father’s health insurance, life insurance and Social Security as well as veteran’s benefits, if applicable.
Benefits for unmarried parents
A mother must also establish paternity if she wishes to collect child support from her child’s father if the pair was unmarried when the child was born. Establishing paternity is also necessary for fathers who wish to gain visitation or custodial rights over a child and otherwise play a key role in decision-making on the child’s behalf.
How to establish paternity
If parents are unmarried at the time of a child’s birth but in agreement about who fathered the child in question, they can establish paternity relatively easily by signing a Paternity Acknowledgement form at the hospital. They may also do so after the child leaves the hospital until he or she is 18 by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If there is disagreement between parents about who fathered the child, the next step in establishing paternity involves securing a legal court order for genetic testing.