Paternity in Massachusetts means legal fatherhood.
Paternity is automatically established if the parents are married when the child is born. The husband is the child’s legal father.
If the parents aren’t married when the child is born, paternity needs to be established. If you don’t establish paternity, your child doesn’t have a legal father. This is true even if both parents are living together with the child.
Having a legal father gives your child rights and benefits that aren’t available if paternity isn’t established. There are many reasons that legal fatherhood is important to your child:
- Identity. When you establish paternity for your child, you are both saying, “Yes, this is my child.” This gives your child a sense of identity and connection with both sides of the family. Knowing both parents can improve your child’s chance of success in life.
- Health. It is important to know about any diseases, physical problems, or other characteristics that may have been passed down from both sides of someone’s family. Knowing both parents’ family medical history will help doctors treat or even prevent medical problems a child might have inherited.
- Financial Support. Families with children supported by 2 parents are more likely to have enough money to meet their needs than families supported by only 1 parent. By establishing paternity, both parents make a commitment to support their child to the best of their abilities.
- Benefits. When parents establish paternity, they make their child eligible for coverage under either parent’s health insurance. If anything should happen to the father, the child may also be entitled to receive Social Security, pension, veterans’ and inheritance benefits.
- Public Assistance. If you get public assistance (welfare), you must cooperate with DOR to establish paternity and a child support order. If you don’t cooperate, your benefits may be reduced.
Any parent or guardian of a child under 18 years old, or a man who believes he may be the parent, can ask for help to establish paternity.
Should you need assistance in establishing your paternity rights or seeking to obtain child support and other available benefits from the father, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.