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While many child support and child custody cases are fairly straightforward, with both parents working out the finer details regarding a minor child’s care, that isn’t always the case.
In situations where a child’s paternity may be in question, it’s important for the court, the parents, and the child to truly understand who fathered the child.
Often, before a child support or child custody case can proceed in court, paternity must be established. This is typically done through a DNA test, where samples are taken from the child and any potential fathers.
There are a variety of reasons why it’s important to prove paternity. Here are 6 of them:
Everyone has a right to know who their family is and how to find them, if they so choose to.
Paternity gives both the child and the father the knowledge that they “belong” to one another, and can help establish family connections with people they may not have otherwise gotten to know.
Even if the father or the father’s family chooses not to be part of the child’s life, knowing who their father is and who their extended family is can be an important part of helping a young child understand their identity and feel a sense of belonging.
The father-child relationship, while not always perfect, is a fundamental part of a child’s upbringing.
Once a person knows they are legally the father of a child, they have the opportunity to become a part of that child’s life and childhood. Establishing this father-child relationship can help foster the child’s social and emotional development, leading to a stable, happy adulthood.
Custody & Visitation
If the child’s father and mother do not live together and are establishing paternity for the matter of custody and visitation rights, knowing paternity is an important step in this process.
Once a child’s father is determined, they then gain legal rights to custody and visitation with the child, helping to solidify the father-child relationship.
Both parents must provide financial support for their children. In order for a court to require a father to provide financially for a child, paternity must be established.
While child support is often the first thought in many people’s minds when establishing paternity, it also can impact other aspects of both the father’s and the child’s financial lives.
Some things that a person having a child can impact include the father’s Social Security benefits, life insurance policies, pension and retirement benefits, and can establish inheritance rights for the child in the event that something happens to the father.
Knowing who a child’s parents are – and what medical issues they may develop – is an essential part of providing proper medical care.
The child and their doctors may need to know who their father is in order to get a complete medical history. This can be important in the event that the child develops a genetic health condition and knowing this information may impact the treatment the child receives.
Additionally, establishing paternity may allow the father to add the child to his health insurance policy, opening up access to better medical care for the child.
Access to Information
Legally, a child’s father has a right to be notified about certain information related to their child.
Some of this information can include criminal proceedings, adoptions, juvenile court proceedings, and custody hearings. Additionally, legally determined mothers and fathers have rights to access information related to their child’s schooling and medical care.
Lawyer for Establishing Paternity in Washington, D.C.
If you suspect you may be the father of a child, or if you need help determining paternity of your child, Lopez Law Firm can help. We’ve worked with dozens of families seeking to establish paternity. Schedule your consultation today!