Why Is It Important To Establish Paternity?


When any child is born, there is no doubt about the identity of the legal and biological mother of the child unless the woman forfeits those rights in the case of an adoption. While husbands may be presumed to be biological fathers when the mother is married, unwed couples do not get the same presumption.

The result is that unmarried men often have to establish paternity to protect their rights as well as the rights of children. Paternity can also be beneficial for mothers because it will provide knowledge that a child has both financial and emotional support.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Men need to understand that there are numerous benefits to taking the time to establish paternity. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Inclusion of the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate
  • Creates a sense of identity
  • Makes sure a child is eligible for public and private benefits through the father
  • Secures future custody and visitation rights
  • Allows either party to file for child support or establish visitation orders
  • Guarantees important medical rights relating to a father’s medical history and also possibly medical insurance
  • Could allow for changing the child’s surname
  • Guarantees other rights to the child

Mothers frequently want to establish paternity so a father’s name will appear on a child’s birth certificate, but additional reasons commonly include simply ensuring a child has a legal father, making sure the father will be responsible for the child, and guaranteeing the father’s right to custody. Many other mothers seek paternity to get access to a father’s health insurance policy, to be able to file a claim for child support, and also to become eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or Medicaid.

The good news for most men seeking to establish paternity is that a resolution can usually happen through a basic blood test because DNA or other blood tests are customarily 99.9 percent accurate at determining who a child’s biological father is. When there is no desire for a blood test, then a buccal swab of the inside of the mouth of the father will collect genetic material and be suitable for testing.

Establishing paternity will let a child claim Social Security, disability, or veterans benefits should a father die or become disabled. It will also grant the child rights to any inheritance

from the father.

The process can be much more complicated for same-sex couples because many states do not clearly define the process for establishing paternity as it relates to same-sex couples. You will be best served by working with a family law attorney in these cases.

Common Reasons Paternity is Not Established

Many mothers do not establish paternity because the father was not present when birth registrars offered the opportunity. Many fathers are not in a relationship with the mother and are absent from the birth altogether.

Fathers dating or living with mothers will be much more likely to be present for a child’s birth but could still miss the opportunity to connect with a birth registrar. Some fathers simply do not wish to establish paternity, while others claim it was not important.

Unmarried men could still face the presumption of fatherhood when they attempt to marry a mother, and a child is conceived or born during the attempted marriage, the couple becomes legally married after a child is born and the man agrees to support the child financially or place his name on the birth certificate, or the man brings the child into his home and openly presents the child as being his own.

You will need to act quickly if you need to rebut any presumed paternity. Otherwise, failure to file a legal request may result in a court requiring you to pay support for a child that is not biologically yours.

A mother may allege paternity by naming a man in a paternity suit to establish child support and custodial rights. The court would then offer the alleged father the opportunity to participate in a DNA or another kind of paternity test.

Without paternity, a man will have a difficult time being able to partake in any parental responsibilities or even parenting time. Mothers will also be unable to know that a child will be taken care of.

If you need any kind of assistance establishing paternity, you can benefit by hiring an experienced family law attorney. It will be important for you to act quickly so you can have your rights legally recognized as soon as possible.