The Parental Rights and Responsibilities of Legal Fathers.

     Even when parents aren’t married, children benefit immeasurably by receiving continued support from and contact with their fathers. But absent a legal paternity determination, unmarried fathers have no right to see their children and no obligation to pay child support.

Do You Need to Establish Paternity?

     Whenever a child is born to a married mother, the law automatically presumes that the mother’s husband is also the child’s father. Paternity is only called into question when a child is born out of wedlock. If the two parents are certain who the father is, and if both want the biological father to have legal paternity, then he can sign a form with the court that will officially recognize him as the child’s father. If there is any disagreement as to who the real father is, the matter can be resolved through DNA testing.

The Benefits of Establishing Legal Paternity.

     Everyone involved — the mother, the father, and the child — can benefit when legal paternity is established. Mothers can receive assistance raising the child in the form of child support payments. Fathers gain the right to spend time with their children through a child custody and visitation arrangement. Children benefit because they know without a doubt who their real father is. Not only does this help them form a better sense of identity, but it also helps their doctors know if they are at risk for any hereditary health conditions. In addition, it allows them to be covered under their father’s health insurance.