With the number of children born out of wedlock on the rise, our society has experienced an increased need for establishing fatherhood, also known as paternity. If a married woman gives birth to a child, her husband is automatically presumed to be the child’s father, unless substantial evidence indicates otherwise. However, if a child is born out of wedlock, the child’s father does not assume the same rights and responsibilities of fatherhood unless the child’s paternity is legally established. One way to legally establish paternity is through a paternity test. The Homedna free paternity test is available to those who qualify. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about establishing paternity.
Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?
There are many reasons why it is important to establish paternity, including for financial support, medical records, citizenship, benefits, and paternal rights.
Financial Support– Both federal and state laws require both parents to financially support their child, even if the parents are not married to each other.
Medical Records– It is extremely beneficial for a child to have access to his or her parent’s health records in order to know if he or she has potentially inherited any special health problems. If a family member needs a medical transplant, knowing a child’s parents and other immediate family members is important.
Citizenship– Children receive their citizenship and or nationality from their parents. A child may be granted certain rights for the countries where his or her parents are citizens.
Benefits– By legally establishing paternity, a child becomes legally entitled to his or her father’s Social Security insurance benefits, veteran’s benefits, inheritance rights, and other benefits.
Paternal Rights– A father does not have the right to address custody and visitation issues or give input regarding childrearing unless paternity has been legally established.
How Can Paternity Be Legally Established?
Although laws may vary by state, most states allow paternity to be established in one of two ways. The father, mother, child, or the state, may file a legal action stating that the man is the child’s father even though the child was born outside of marriage. This is typically verified by genetic testing and it can be established in either judicially or administratively. Both parents can also sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form in front of two non-related witnesses to establish paternity. Some states also require the father’s parents to sign the form if he is under the age of 18.
When Can a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form be Signed?
A Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form can be signed at any point after the birth of a child, although there are several benefits that come from signing the form right after the birth. When both parents voluntarily sign the form at the hospital or other facility where the birth took place, the facility staff can immediately file the information so that it is contained on the child’s birth certificate. If the form is signed at a later date, it must be submitted to the state’s health department or other responsible agency in order for paternity to be reflected on a child’s birth certificate.
Under What Circumstances Should a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity Not be Signed?
A father or a mother or a child born out of wedlock is not required to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. This form is legally binding and should not be signed if the child’s mother or the alleged father is uncertain of whether or not the alleged father is in fact the child’s father. This form should also not be signed if the mother or alleged father is not signing by their own free will and choice or if they do not understand the legal ramifications of signing the form.
Do Minors Under the Age of 18 Need to Worry About Establishing Paternity?
Minors are not required to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. However, if a minor is the alleged father, he may wish to establish paternity because he can be named as the father of a child and may be able to gain paternal rights. Paternity can also be established for minors through and administrative order and they may be legally ordered to pay child support even if they do not currently have an income.
For more information about establishing paternity and paternity testing in your specific state, contact your state’s health department or other respective agency.