Being unmarried and pregnant no longer carries the stigma of the past, but it does present some unique issues. In some cases, there is a need to establish paternity. It would be a mistake to ignore this issue, regardless of your attitude about the father. Read on to find out why naming a father is so important and how to take legal action to make that happen.
Why Should I Name the Father?
It all boils down to providing your child with the same legal rights as a child born of married parents. Children born out of wedlock deserve legal benefits like the following:
- The ability to use the health insurance of the father
- The ability to receive financial support (child support)
- The ability to benefit from inheritances from the father and his family
- The ability to receive government support like Veteran's benefits and Social Security
- The ability to gain access to information pertaining to health, medical, and genetic issues
If you want your child to have the help and support of any of the above, you must establish paternity.
How Can I Establish Paternity?
The method you use depends on your personal situation. Consider using the following paternity establishment methods:
- By a legal agreement. Parents are offered the opportunity to establish paternity at the time of the birth. A declaration of paternity must be signed by both parents.
- By genetic testing. If both parties agree, genetic testing can exclude or provide a highly accurate estimate for fatherhood.
Fatherhood can also be legally established by court litigation without performing genetic testing.
What If I Must Take the Paternity Case to Court?
If the father refuses to undergo genetic testing, you can establish paternity for legal purposes using several factors other than genetic testing. The judge may use the answers to questions like the following to help prove a connection between the father and the child, such as:
- Has the father admitted that they were the father of the child?
- Are there records showing that money or gifts have been provided to the mother to be used for the child's care or directly to the child?
- Is there proof that the alleged father has spent time with the child? This might include photographs or videos of those occasions.
- Are there close family members, friends, or others who can testify about the relationship of the alleged father and the child?
- Is there proof that the man and the mother of the child were together around the time of conception?
Keep in mind that it's not necessary to use all of the above answers. Any one or more of the above can help establish a father-child relationship.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Establishing Paternity?
There is no way to establish paternity until after the child is born. In addition, to benefit from financial directives like child support and other forms of government aid, paternity must be legally established using one of the methods mentioned above.
A father who voluntarily supports their child may not prompt the need for proof of paternity. If, however, the father halts the support, you can take action against him. In this case, his past behavior of supporting the child forms a convincing case for paternity and for then ordering him to pay child support.
You have a right to take actions that ensure your child is protected, benefited, and supported in a way that promotes the best interests of that child. Speak to an attorney at The Law Offices of Debra B. Marino, LLC to learn more about your legal rights to establish paternity for your child's sake.