Establishing paternity rights of a child can have a huge impact on the child’s life, including their emotional and financial stability. Legally establishing the paternity of a child is an important step that can protect all parties involved, especially the child. Once the courts legally recognize paternity, the child can begin to receive financial support and, hopefully, emotional support.
Why Establish Paternity?
Establishing the paternity of a child is done for many reasons, including legal reasons. The mother may seek to establish the paternity of her child in order to receive child support payments. The father may wish to establish paternity rights so that he can be involved in his child’s life. A man who isn’t sure if he is the father may wish to undergo the test so that he won’t be involved in raising a child that isn’t his. From the perspective of the child, knowing the truth about his or her biological parents can make a big difference for their emotional well-being.
The Steps to Establishing Paternity Rights
In many cases, paternity is established when the child is born and the presumed father signs the birth certificate. In some situations, such as the birth of a child to a couple who never married and are no longer together, paternity must be settled through different means. The process towards settling a question of paternity can begin outside of the courts. For example, if a man believes that a child may be his but isn’t sure, he can begin by talking to the mother about undergoing a paternity test. If the mother is seeking to establish the paternity of the child, she should begin by discussing it with the man that she believes is the father. If both parents consent, the test can be done through a laboratory without legal compulsion.
However, if these discussions do not lead to mutual consent, a court case is likely. The party who wishes to settle the question of paternity rights can bring a petition to the court to begin the procedure. If the presumed father is unwilling to undergo the test, the court may compel the unwilling party to comply through fines or other legal actions. Once the presumed father submits to the paternity test, the results will likely only take a few weeks.
If the court-ordered paternity test proves that the presumed father is indeed the child’s father, the court can begin to work out a plan for child custody and child support. The child will also now be able to inherit from his father’s estate and be eligible for health insurance in the father’s name. If the test proves the presumed father is not the parent, no further action is required from him.
Navigating the thorny legal issues of a paternity test is not an easy task to take on, especially on your own. A paternity lawyer can help you deal with this difficult issue without feeling overwhelmed. Cheshire Family Law specializes in a number of family law subjects, including paternity cases. Contact us today at (561) 677-8090 for a consultation.