It is often important to legally establish the paternity of a child, whether or not the father is involved in the child’s life. If a child is born to a married woman, then it is automatically assumed that the husband of that woman is the father of the child and that his name must be recorded on the birth certificate, unless either spouse disputes paternity. If the child is born to an unmarried woman, then the matter of paternity must be legally established.
As indicated above, if the child is born to a married couple and none of the spouses challenges the paternity of the child, then the husband will be automatically designated as the father of the child on the birth certificate. Only parents need to fill out the paperwork required for the issuance of the birth certificate, which is typically done at the hospital where the baby is born.
Paternity for a child born to an unmarried mother is also easy to establish if no father challenges paternity. Most states require that a Paternity Affidavit be filled out if the father and mother agree on the identity of the child’s father. An Affidavit of Paternity must be filled in accordance with the laws of the State where the child was born. To be valid, some States, for example, require that the Paternity Affidavit be notarized and filed with the county clerk or city in the place where the child was born. Once the Paternity Affidavit has been submitted, the father’s name, which indicates the Affidavit, will be added to the child’s birth certificate and the man will become the legal father of the child.
For children whose paternity is contested, it will certainly be more difficult to establish legal paternity, but it is equally important. Most states require a DNA test if the father or mother challenges the paternity of the child. Once the DNA test establishes paternity, then, usually, a Paternity Affidavit is required, just as in cases of uncontested paternity.
Why it is important to legally identify a child’s father
Whether it is a contested paternity or not, it is important to legally establish the paternity of the child. Without a legal designation of paternity, a child has no right to financial support while the father lives or an inheritance when the father has died. Without a legal designation of paternity, a child does not have the right to be included in his father’s health insurance nor does he have the right to demand access to the father’s health record in case a medical need arises. Without a legal designation of paternity, the father has no right to visit the child or build a relationship with the child when the mother’s consent is not available.
Although a legal designation of paternity does not guarantee a close relationship between the father and the child, it provides significant legal benefits to the child. Accordingly, it is important that a correct legal designation be carried out and recorded on the child’s birth certificate or registered in court.
Talk to a lawyer qualified in Family Law today
This article is intended to be useful and informative, but legal issues can become complicated and stressful. A lawyer qualified in family law can attend to your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified family law attorney near you to discuss your particular legal situation.