If you are an unmarried father, you might be wondering about the impact and benefits of establishing legal paternity of your child.
Establishing paternity enables you to formally define child custody support arrangements with your child’s mother. You are able to provide for your child and involve yourself in childcare if you have legal recognition as a parent.
Advantages of legal paternity
As an unmarried father, legal paternity grants you the same rights and obligations as your child’s mother. If you are a legally recognized father, your input is necessary for decisions regarding your child’s education and medical care. Furthermore, you can pursue parenting time and opportunities to bond with your child. Even if you and your child’s mother do not have a good relationship currently, you can still make positive memories and help guide your child through life. Establishing paternity also makes it possible for you to financially support your child through payments, benefits, insurance coverage and possible inheritance.
How to establish paternity
In general, married fathers automatically have paternity after their wives give birth. For unmarried fathers, the situation is more complex. If you divorced your child’s mother within 300 days of your child’s birth, the state might presume you are the father. If you were never married, but your child’s mother agrees that you are the father of her child, the two of you can sign an affidavit that declares your paternity. However, if there is disagreement about your child’s parentage, you might have to seek genetic testing to confirm your paternity status.
Unmarried fathers who want relationships with their children should consider seeking legal recognition of their paternity. Once you establish legal paternity, you can explore options for custody arrangements and time with your child.