Thousands of children are born each year to unmarried parents. Children who are born to unmarried parents deserve the same rights as other children when it comes to knowing their identity, understanding their family’s medical history, and having the emotional and financial support from both of their parents. In addition, parents have the right to have a relationship with their child. For these reasons, it is important to establish paternity for every child.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
If the parents of a child were not married when the child was born or when the mother became pregnant, the child has no legal father until paternity has been established. This means that the child has no legal right to receive the following from the father:
- Financial support
- Insurance coverage
- Veterans’ benefits
- Social security benefits
In addition, a child without a legally-established father may lack a sense of identity or belonging that arises from a relationship with both parents.
- No visitation rights or parenting time
- No legal right to make important decisions about the child
- No bearing on the child’s medical care, education, or religious upbringing.
In order to legally establish paternity, the biological father of the child must fill out an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form, regardless of whether or not the mother is married to another man. If the mother is married, her husband must sign a legal document denying his own paternity to the child.
In cases in which the identity of the father is in question, those claiming paternity should seek paternity testing to prove or disprove parenthood.
To learn more about establishing paternity, child custody, child support, or other family law issues, contact the Raleigh divorce lawyers of Marshall & Taylor PLLC at (919) 833-1040.