Record numbers of children in Massachusetts are being born out of wedlock, but few parents stop to understand the legal implications. Sociologists suggest the increased numbers of children being born out of wedlock is caused by an American attitude that marriage is less important than it once was.
Whether you are in an unmarried partnership, are in the midst of a divorce, or are planning to re-marry in the near future and share a child with someone else, paternity establishment is important in Massachusetts. It ensures your rights as a parent are protected and that your child's rights are protected as well. Without establishing paternity, your child's medical and financial benefits might be at stake, and your parenting privileges can be compromised.
When parents aren't living together as a child's birth approaches, the family may benefit from having pre-birth orders spelling out what will happen at the hospital and beyond. Pre-birth orders sought in Massachusetts help preserve a calm environment for the child's arrival and keep the hospital from having to play referee between the parents. Pre-birth orders can allocate authority for medical decisions starting from birth, ensure that both parents have a chance to hold the baby and enjoy opportunities for bonding, and include a plan for the baby's care on release from the hospital.
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 issue of paternity is an important one. Not only does it matter emotionally, but it is also an incredibly important legal (and financial) issue that impacts significant rights and obligations. In cases where paternity is not definitively known, determining who the father is as quickly as possible can be crucially important.
Under G.L. chapter 209C, § 14, the mother, but not the father is allowed to file a court case while she is pregnant. Paternity, however cannot be legally established until the child is born even though the father and the mother-to-be agreed verbally or in writing that she is pregnant with his child.