The Importance Establishing Paternity for Parents & Children
In a perfect world, having a child would always be a joyous event, with expectant parents eagerly anticipating the arrival of their baby. For some, however, the circumstances of a pregnancy are less storybook and more soap opera. When a man believes he is not a baby’s biological father, or when a mother is trying to keep a baby from its father, the consequent paternity dispute can be extremely painful and difficult for all involved. If paternity is not established, however, the child may ultimately be the one who suffers.
Paternity is defined as the quality or state of being a father. A mother, father, or child each has the right to establish paternity depending on the individual desires of the parties involved. For more information about general paternity matters please see the paternity page on our website.
Children Born to Unwed Parents
In the modern day and age, many couples choose to start a family and have children without getting married. While some states allow paternity to be established without a formal court action, in Alabama, children born to unwed parents do not automatically have a legal father without a court paternity action establishing the identity of the father, whether agreed or contested.
When paternity is agreed upon by the parents, signing an Affidavit of Paternity is a relatively routine matter, and if necessary, child support and custody can be involved in the same proceeding. When paternity is disputed, however, the process can be much more complex, requiring court appearances and compelled DNA testing. But there are many important reasons to establish paternity despite the stress that may be involved. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, establishing paternity has the at least the following benefits:
- Knowing paternity helps provide the child with a needed identity.
- It is important to know the health history of both the mother and father for medical care and treatment of the child.
- It often takes both parents to fairly support a child in today’s world.
- Establishing paternity allows a child to be covered by health insurance, social security, inheritance, and veteran’s benefits.
- Paternity also means the parents and child can seek public assistance where they qualify.
Seek Advice & Counsel from an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney
Establishing paternity can be a sensitive matter, especially when paternity is yet unknown or contested. If you live in Arab or the Huntsville-Decatur area and need assistance with a paternity issue, please contact Lana Hawkins at The Hawkins Law Firm to speak with an experienced Alabama family law attorney.