For both mothers and fathers in Massachusetts, particularly those who are not married, paternity is a big issue that, sometimes, requires the intervention of a court to resolve. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our paternity attorney can help you to understand paternity issues and navigate any paternity issues that are affecting you or/and your relationship with your child. Here’s an overview of what you need to know-

What Is Paternity?

Paternity means “the state of being someone’s father.” In a legal context, paternity means that a man has been established as a child’s legal father. (As a note, a mother’s legal parental rights are established automatically at the time of a child’s birth). 

Why Does Paternity Matter?

Paternity is important for several reasons. For example, as stated above, a father will not have legal rights regarding a child until paternity is established. So, if a father has not established paternity, they cannot seek custody of a child or visitation with a child.

Paternity is also important for a child’s mother. Once paternity is established, a mother can seek child support, as well as other benefits for the child via the father’s record (such as Social Security benefits). 

For a child, paternity doesn’t just mean access to certain benefits, but also the ability to know who one’s father is. 

Common Paternity Issues

For parents who are not married at the time of a child’s birth (paternity will be automatically established when parents are married) or who do not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage form, paternity may be complicated. Some common paternity issues include:

  • One parent denies that the male in question is the child’s father;
  • The mother of the child is married to a man who is not the child’s father at the time of the child’s birth;
  • A parent believes that paternity has been established, only to learn that it has not been and therefore they do not have any legal rights;
  • One parent does not agree to biological testing to establish paternity; or 
  • Paternity fraud is committed, where a man is incorrectly identified as being the child’s father. 

Fortunately, most paternity issues can easily be resolved, especially since the advent of biological testing. If a man does not voluntarily submit to biological testing, or if a mother is refusing to have her child’s DNA extracted, either party maintains the right to file a petition with the court to get a court order. 

How a Skilled Massachusetts Paternity Lawyer Can Help

Whether you are a mother or a father, establishing paternity is important. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our Massachusetts paternity lawyer knows how critical establishing paternity can be when it comes to issues like child support, visitation, custody, and more. 

If you have a paternity issue and aren’t sure where to turn, our lawyer is here to help. To schedule a consultation with Attorney Heather M. Ward today, please send our law firm a message with more details about your situation or call (617) 903-8955 directly.