Parentage refers to the legal parent-child relationship, and paternity specifically refers to the father-child relationship. When a married couple has a child together, the mother’s husband is assumed to be the legal father, and he does not need to take additional action to confirm paternity. However, for unmarried parents or situations in which a child’s father is unknown or uncertain, Paternity will need to be established through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, an administrative process, or a court order.
The Father Can Put His Name on the Child’s Birth Certificate
Some people think that signing the birth certificate is the same thing as establishing paternity. However, signing the birth certificate will be meaningless unless paternity is established. Once the appropriate steps are taken to establish paternity, the father can add his name to the birth certificate.
The Father Can Petition the Court for Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities
Once a man is acknowledged as a child’s official father, he can ask the court for a share of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Courts usually assume that it is best for both of the child’s parents to be involved in the child’s life and unless there is a safety concern with a parent.
The Parent with the Majority of Parenting Time Can Ask for a Child Support Order
If the mother has the majority of the parenting time and paternity is established, she can petition the court for a child support order. The father will be required to pay an amount of child support based on the Income Shares calculation method. This method determines an appropriate child support payment amount based on each parent’s net income. If the father has the majority of the parenting time, he is the recipient of child support.
The Child Gains Access to Certain Benefits Through the Father
Once paternity is established, the child has the right to certain benefits. For example, the child can get health insurance coverage through the father, has the right to his or her father’s inheritance, and may be eligible for military benefits and other types of benefits.
The Child Has an Opportunity for a Father-Child Relationship
Most importantly, establishing paternity is the first step in allowing a child the opportunity to get to know his or her father. Extensive research has shown that having a loving father involved in a child’s life reduces the risk of incarceration, behavioral issues at school, and even mental health conditions.
Contact Our DuPage County Paternity Lawyers
If you are a parent in need of legal assistance with a paternity-related issue, contact our skilled Wheaton family law attorneys for help. Call [[title]] at [[phone]] and set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation today.