Paternity is the formal legal acknowledgment of parentage over a child by a father. It can be established voluntarily if you choose to build a relationship with the child, or involuntarily, which can result if the mother compels you to submit to a DNA test. Regardless, establishing paternity over a child means that you are now responsible for that child. Paternity entails serious legal consequences and obligations. This article will go over those obligations and how they may affect you.
First, your child gains rights to your income, estate, familial information and general support. Your child is entitled to:
- Child support payments.
- Gains the right to inherit from your estate.
- The right to seek shelter and general assistance from you.
- Access to your medical history, including family history, so that he or she can identify any risk for any disease they may face.
Additionally, your child gains several government benefits including death benefits, disability payments or workers' compensation in the event of your death or serious injury.
You also gain custody and visitation rights over your child. Visitation means that the mother of your child cannot prevent you from seeing and building a relationship with your child. Custody means that you may be included in decisions relating to your child such as education, medical care and other decisions. Furthermore, since you have custody rights, this means that the mother cannot unilaterally put your child up for adoption. Adoption eliminates any prior parental rights, therefore, once paternity is established, both you and the mother must consent before any adoption can be approved.
Becoming a parent is a big responsibility. Your child gains rights and obligations. You gain rights and obligations, and so does the mother. It is a lot to keep straight, especially if you are a new parent. If you are trying to establish paternity or are defending a paternity action, then you may want to consult with a lawyer. This is a serious legal action that can carry legal consequences for years down the road.