Establishing paternity can have benefits for both parents and child, and for unmarried parents, there are two ways to go about this. The first is to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form; the second is via the courts.
Why is it so important to establish paternity? Here are five benefits in favor of doing so.
1. Establishing identity
It is important that a child understands where they came from and feels as though they are part of a family. Knowing their father plays a significant role in this. Similarly, a father may wish to be recognized as such in the eyes of the law. Establishing paternity can help both parent and child build a closer relationship, and many studies have demonstrated the benefits for a child of having a healthy and secure relationship with their parents.
2. Custody and visitation rights
If a father wishes to be legally entitled to visit the child or is even considering petitioning for custody of the child, it is vital that paternity is established first. In instances where the mother and father Iive separately but both wish to share custody or have legal visitation rights (and this cannot be agreed without legal assistance), paternity may need to be legally established before proceedings can begin.
3. Financial rights
According to the law, it is both the mother and father's responsibility to support the child financially. By establishing paternity, this means that a court can order the father to pay child support. Other benefits that may be affected by establishing paternity include:
- social security benefits
- life insurance
- pension and retirement
- inheritance rights
4. Medical history
Determining the paternity of a child can also be necessary for medical reasons. There may be instances in the future were understanding the father's medical history plays an integral part in a doctor's diagnosis and also to ensure that the mother or child is aware of any genetic traits or family diseases that could affect their health. Establishing paternity may also mean a father can add their child to their medical insurance policy.
5. Staying informed
A legally established parent also has the right to access certain information about their child. If there are any court proceedings taking place, for example, the father has a right to be notified. These could include criminal proceedings, adoption proceedings, juvenile court proceedings, or custody hearings. Other information that a father is legally able to obtain includes school records, medical records, and religious records as well.
Establishing paternity can ensure that the father's name is on the birth certificate, that they have legal rights over the child but also legal responsibilities for them and can help secure the father's involvement in raising the child too.
If you have any questions or concerns about establishing paternity get in touch with Attorney Regina Taylor. You can call us at (704) 861-0700 or fill out our contact form here.