Did you know that when a baby is born, paternity is only established if the parents are married at the time of birth, or if both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form? For many unmarried parents, establishing paternity isn’t a top priority. But it should be. Here are three of the top reasons why you should establish paternity as soon as possible after your child’s birth–

1. If You’re a Father, You’ll Have No Parental Rights Otherwise

For fathers, one of the most pressing reasons to establish paternity is that a father will have no parental rights otherwise. To be sure, a father who fails to establish paternity will not have the right to seek custody of or visitation with their child. Once paternity has been established, however, these matters may lawfully proceed, and a father will have legal parental rights unless otherwise revoked. 

2. If You’re a Mother, You’ll Have No Right to Seek Child Support Payments Otherwise

For mothers, establishing paternity is equally as important. Indeed, most mothers who are not living with the child’s father will benefit from child support payments. In Massachusetts, all parents have a duty to provide for their children financially. But if paternity isn’t established, a father cannot be held liable for providing financially for their child, and a mother will have no legal grounds on which to seek child support payments. Note that this also means that the mother will have no right to seek other benefits from the father’s record on the child’s behalf, such as Social Security benefits. 

3. Establishing Paternity Is Important for the Child 

The rights of the parents aside, establishing paternity is also important for the child. Many would argue that a child has a right to know who their parents are and from where they come, and that having both a father and mother in a child’s life is key for healthy development and wellbeing. What’s more, once paternity is established, a child will also be able to access information about their father’s health history (which could be very important), seek benefits from their father’s record (i.e. Social Security), and be named as a beneficiary on a father’s estate or receive inheritance via the laws of intestate succession in Massachusetts. 

Consult with a Massachusetts Paternity Lawyer Today

Whether you are a mother or father, if you are unmarried at the time of your child’s birth, establishing paternity is an important part of protecting your and your child’s rights. At the office of Heather Ward Law, our experienced Massachusetts paternity lawyer can guide you through the importance of establishing paternity and how to start the process today. To learn more about paternity in Massachusetts, please call Attorney Heather M. Ward directly at 617-903-8955 or send our law office a confidential message using the intake form found on our website.