Here in Massachusetts, child custody and parenting disputes can become complicated if the children at issue were born out of wedlock. There are several different avenues for establishing parentage in this state.
The most traditional option occurs if the biological parents of a child get married then the paternity of the father is established automatically.
If the couple chooses not to get married, the parents can establish paternity while still in the hospital by filling out and signing a form known as a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
Should the unwed couple decide not to fill out the form while still in the hospital, they can always do so later.
Though this all seems relatively simple, it's important to note that the above instances only cover cases where both parents are in agreement about who is the father of the child.
If either party disagrees, things can become more complicated and litigious. Either party could have doubts for a variety of reasons, in which case the court system would have to get involved. Either parent has the ability to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity along with a Motion for Genetic Marker Testing.
The issue of establishing legal paternity is so important for single men because, unlike married fathers, a father who is not married to the child's mother has to take such steps to get the rights he is due. An unmarried father does not automatically have his name listed on the child's birth certificate or hold custody or parenting rights.
Establishing paternity is crucial for any father wanting to see his children and be involved in their lives, as it is the only way a court can order an appropriate parenting plan.
However, fathers need to be aware that such legitimation also comes with responsibilities, including child support and contribution toward uncovered healthcare expenses. By establishing paternity, you are also opening the door to a possible child support case by the child's mother, and those risks and rewards need to be understood before the process is undertaken.
The Law Offices of Renee Lazar can help you with your paternity case today. Either email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation to learn more about Massachusetts paternity laws and to discuss your case.