Are you the father of a child born outside of marriage?
In years past, mothers generally retained exclusive control over the children born from unmarried relationships. Fathers could do very little to retain contact with their children if the mothers objected.
Times have changed. A paternity action can give you the right to establish a relationship with your child -- even over the mother's objections.
Choosing to establish paternity over your child is about a lot more than just signing your name on a birth certificate and providing financial support for your child. Consider this:
- Every child has the right to know his or her father. You are giving your child the precious gift a lasting connection with you that can't be easily broken.
- By establishing paternity, you ensure your child's right to an inheritance from you when you pass away.
- Your child also gains the right to collect important benefits if you become disabled, such as Social Security.
- You may obtain visitation rights and, if desired, shared parenting.
- You may obtain the right to make decisions about your child's education, religious upbringing and more.
Establishing formal paternity can also keep you from experiencing the heartbreak that other fathers have felt when the mothers of their children have moved away or married someone else and cut the fathers out of their lives in order to get a fresh start. The loss of contact with your child can be an emotional wound that is impossible to heal.
If your child's mother did not allow you to sign the baby's birth certificate when he or she was born or denies your paternity, a paternity action can compel her to have the child take a DNA test. That DNA can be compared to yours in order to officially establish the parent-child bond between you and your child.
Don't wait until there is a problem to take a paternity action. Even if your relationship with your child's mother is fairly cordial right now, things can change. You could find yourself shut out very suddenly -- and that can make it much harder to pursue a case.