A father’s paternity can be established by the following:

  • If the child was born of the mother and father’s marriage,
  • If the parents are unmarried and they sign a paternity affidavit, or
  • A court establishes paternity.

Establishing paternity will primarily focus on establishing a child support and parenting time order for the child.

Generally, upon establishing paternity the father will be ordered to pay child support to the mother and will have regular parenting time with the child. Public policy believes that both of these are of great benefit because the child will be able to establish a meaningful relationship with their father and the child’s caretaker will receive financial aid to help care for the child.

Paternity does not only focus on parenting time and child support. By establishing paternity, a child becomes eligible for certain benefits which they may not be able to claim without paternity. For example, benefits tied to the father such as Social Security would allow the child to receive financial aid if the father became disabled or deceased. Also, establishing paternity will create inheritance rights for the child relating to the father’s estate. If the father is a veteran, then his child is also eligible for certain veteran benefits. Additionally, establishing paternity will grant the child access to the father’s life and health insurance benefits.

Establishing paternity can be relatively painless, especially if the parties agree as to the identity of the child’s father. Therefore, it is beneficial for paternity to be established so the child can become eligible for benefits relating to the father. If someone believes a child’s paternity needs to be established, they should contact a qualified attorney who can advise them of the process and ensure the maximum benefits for the child.