Four Reasons Unwed Fathers Should Establish Legal Paternity

If you are not married to the mother of your child, you need to take certain measures to establish your fatherhood in the eyes of the law. When a child is born to married parents, the law assumes that the mother’s husband is her child’s father. Unwed fathers, on the other hand, have to actually claim paternity if they want to have all of the legal rights associated with fatherhood. 

Establishing paternity in California can be done in one of two ways.

  • You and the mother can sign a declaration of paternity. It’s easiest to do this at the hospital when the child is born, but if you didn’t that’s okay. You can do it after the fact, there’s just a slightly more involved process for filing the declaration with the court.
  • When the mother doesn’t want to cooperate, you can get a court order. You may need to submit to a paternity test to prove that you are, indeed, the father of your child.

There are many reasons fathers should take the time to establish paternity. There’s a common misconception that if you don’t do this, you won’t ever have to take financial responsibility for your child (like paying child support). In truth, the child’s mother can still usually get the court to order a paternity test and subsequent child support upon request. 

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of legal paternity:

1. You are entitled to be involved in decision making regarding your child.

From education to medical care, one of the biggest parts of being a parent is making decisions that will, hopefully, lead to the best possible life for your child. While your child’s mother may involve you in decisions even without legally established paternity, getting it established seals this right in the eyes of the law.

2. You can ask for custody or visitation if you separate from your child’s mother.

When you haven’t legally established paternity, your relationship with your child is dependent on what she will allow. If your relationship with her goes sour, she can prevent you from being a part of your child’s life. However, with legally established paternity you can assert yourself. You can request visitation or even custody in family court.

3. You can share your benefits with your child.

You need to legally establish your paternity in order for your child to enjoy any benefits you may have, such as health insurance, life insurance, and social security. It also helps you provide for them even after your death because it entitles them to inheritance unless otherwise stated in your will.

4. It gives your child access to their genetic history.

Knowing genetic history can be important to your child’s health. It can help doctors assess their risk for certain diseases. Establishing your paternity ensures that they will have access to the information that they need to stay healthy.

How do I get started?

If you have questions about establishing legal paternity or you’re ready to get started, The Grey Legal Group is here to help. We encourage you to contact us today!

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The Grey Legal Group, APC

At The Grey Legal Group, we take pride in getting to know our clients personally. Whether you’re going through a divorce, child custody issues, or problems enforcing divorce orders, you can feel confident in our knowledgeable, hands-on approach.

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