Paternity may be used to establish child custody
(or "legal decision-making"), child support
, the child's family name, and visitation rights of fathers of children who are born out of wedlock. By being actively involved in a paternity case, both parties can save themselves emotional stress and costly delays as well as protect their rights and their children's.
Paternity is not only useful for deciding issues of custody, child support and visitation rights. If a parent is severely injured, killed, goes missing, or is no longer able to care for a child, and there is no legal order identifying the other parent, it may be difficult to determine who will take care of the child.
Similarly, if paternity has not been established in a court of law, fathers may find themselves relegated to the status of a stranger until the appropriate legal steps have been taken.
For mothers or fathers who are involved in disputes over child support, the question of paternity is important in determining support obligations and the rights of the father to the child. In paternity cases, child support obligations can run back to the birth of the child, and it is important for fathers to know their obligations before too much time passes.
Similarly, parents' rights are seriously affected in situations where one parent may want to relocate with the child, and legal paternity orders have yet to be put in place.
Another important consideration when dealing with paternity issues can be which parent initiated the legal action. The effect on the children, especially in finding out in the future who brought the paternity action, can be significant. Thus, it is important that the parties and their attorneys approach a paternity matter with a high level of discretion and confidentiality.
At Brown Family Law Group, we work with mothers and fathers to determine the paternity of a child in a way that is respectful and fair to all parties involved and respects their privacy.