Establishing Paternity Will Help You Exercise Your Parental Rights
When it comes to exercising parental rights, establishing paternity in the eyes of the law is essential. Attorney Erica M. Foster provides experienced counsel to unmarried fathers and alleged fathers who wish to establish paternity and maintain a relationship with their child. Erica also supports mothers who are seeking financial support from the father of their child. She can help you understand the requirements of establishing paternity and the Massachusetts laws that govern your ability to file a paternity action.
Is The Paternity Of Your Child In Question?
Where paternity of the child is in question, any party with an interest may initiate the process to determine the identity of the child’s legal father. Identity of possible fathers or “putative fathers” may involve presenting the court with sworn statements and testimonies concerning:
- Sexual relations by the mother with someone other than the putative father
- Lack of access to the mother by the putative father
- Scientific evidence showing the likelihood of putative father being genetically related
- Statements against interest made by the putative father
- Other admissible evidence that may tend to establish paternity
The complex process of obtaining a court order assigning a man legal paternity is known as an “Order of Filiation.” Legal paternity gives a father rights and responsibilities, such as supporting and visiting with the child.
In Massachusetts, a child born to parents prior to their marriage typically becomes “a child of the marriage” when the marriage occurs. This was the old rule from Canon law, but at common law, retroactive legitimacy was not conferred on a child by the marriage of the parents after the child was conceived, a matter of some importance when inheritance was at issue.
Why Establish Paternity?
Not until you establish paternity will you be able to collect child support on behalf of your child. Legal paternity will also benefit your child in other ways. For example, establishing paternity may give your children the right to medical coverage under their father’s policy. They will be able to collect inheritance from their father upon his death. They may also collect from his:
- Social Security
- Veteran’s benefits
Another critical element of establishing paternity is that the medical genetic information of both parents is available for the child if needed for diagnosis and treatment of medical problems.