Unmarried Couple: How to Establish Paternity
Unmarried parents face a multitude of challenges when they are seeking to part ways because unlike their married counterparts, the father is not recognized as a biological parent, despite their name listed on the birth certificate of the child. Consequently, the mother has no legal rights to seek child support from the father until paternity is established. Similarly, the father will not be eligible to pursue child custody or visitation rights. Thus, it is extremely important that unmarried couple should establish paternity.
What is Paternity?
In legal terms, establishing paternity is a procedure which recognizes an individual as a child’s biological father. When two individuals are married, there is no requirement to establish paternity as the law presumes that the husband is the biological father of the child. However, in the case of an unmarried couple, there is no such provision or presumption in the law that establishes paternity.
Why Is It Important to Establish Paternity?
Establishing paternity is important due to multiple reasons, which may include the following:
It protects the child’s legal right to a father-child relationship
It protects the legal rights of the parents
It provides financial security to the child, which may include social security benefits, inheritance, veteran benefits, and health and life insurance benefits.
It gives access to medical information of the family
How Is Paternity Established?
Primarily, there are three methods of establishing paternity.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form – The VAP is a legal document used to establish paternity for individuals who are not married. Once a VAP is completed, signed, witnessed, and filed, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate.
Administrative Paternity Order – An administrative paternity order entered by HFS’ Child Support Services can also help you to establish paternity.
Legal Course – An order of paternity can be established by taking a legal route and entering a petition in the court. It can be beneficial for your case to acquire legal services from an experienced family lawyer.
If the first two options are unavailable and an individual is seeking a legal course of action to establish paternity, it is crucial that they have access to legal counsel as there are certain requirements that need to be addressed. For instance, if you do not serve the other parent with a summon informing them about the case within a specific time limit, your case may get dismissed. Having a skillful family lawyer on your side will ensure that such issues are appropriately taken care of.
Furthermore, if the other parent denies parentage, the court may order DNA testing to determine the parentage. However, there may be circumstances which may lead to a contested case, thus obtaining services of a seasoned family lawyer will ensure that your rights remain protected throughout the case.
If you wish to get more information on this subject or schedule a free consultation, contact Cesario & Walker at 630-920-8800 to talk to an experienced family lawyer.