An important legal question to think about – “why is proving paternity important?” Determining the paternity of a child can have a significant impact on both the child and parents. Naturally, legally married parents assume paternity at the birth of their child. But for unmarried couples, the situation is different. Determining the paternity of a child directly impacts issues such as child custody, child support, inheritance, visitation, and other factors.
For unmarried parents’ they can establish paternity in two ways:
- By voluntarily signing an acknowledgment in the way of a paternity form.
- A formal court proceeding can establish paternity
Reasons Why Proving Paternity is Important
- It is extremely important for a father to know if he is the child’s legal parent. Just like it is important for a child to know which family they belong to. Recognition of family makes an individual feel safe, secure and wanted. Establishing the identity of a father goes further than a name penned down on the child’s birth certificate. After establishing paternity, relationships can move forward and grow. These relationships form the father’s and child’s identity. Relationships can also form with other members of the father’s family, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
- A father-child relationship is a key part of childhood. Establishing paternity is the first step towards building this relationship. Children need a father’s involvement in their lives and fathers have a duty to their children. A healthy father-relationship has a positive impact on the emotional and social health of a child. Love and support from both parents improve their self-esteem.
- For custody and visitation rights to be legally decided by the court, paternity needs to be determined.
- Both mother and father need to provide financial support to their children. If the child is living with the mother, the court cannot ensure that the father pays child support. Unless paternity is established. Paternity also impacts other financial benefits from the father. Such as inheritance rights, pensions and retirement, life insurance, and social security benefits.
- If a man denies he is the father of the child. A mother seeking child support can prove the man actually is the father by proving paternity. A mother also needs to prove paternity when applying for state aid to raise the child. In case the father refuses to pay child support.
- If a man avoids child support payments because he is doubtful of whether he is the child’s father. Proving paternity becomes useful. Most states take measures to track down fathers who are avoiding child support payments. Once paternity is proven, the court issues an order for them to give mandatory child support.
Another reason to answer the question of why is proving paternity important is to determine custody of the child. The “Sole Custody” refers to assigning one parent all legal rights of their child. There are two types of Sole Custody.
- Sole Physical Custody – this is when it is decided that the child will live with the parent.
- Sole Legal Custody – this is when the parent has the legal right to make decisions for their child.
After proving the paternity of the child, the court can decide to grant sole custody to one parent. Or to grant “Joint Custody,” which involves both parents raising the child. Usually, family law courts prefer awarding joint custody. As it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents raising them. But the court can grant sole custody to one parent for exceptional reasons. Such as a history of abuse or addictions, child abuse, or the inability to provide for the child financially.
All the above reasons give the all-important answers to the question – why is proving paternity important. Determining paternity or seeking child custody can be a confusing and difficult process. A good lawyer can help you through these proceedings. It is always good to work with a lawyer who understands your situation. More importantly, they should be a good fit for your case. A good family law attorney can advise on how to create co-parenting schedules, navigate through the process of attaining child custody, and determine alimony agreements. This will enable you to receive a fair deal from all legal proceedings.