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What are the legal implications of paternity?

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As a father, you should have just as many legal rights of your child as the mother. Unfortunately, due to legalities such as paternity, you may not.

Paternity refers to the legal establishment of the identity of a child’s father. While you may know in your heart that you are your child’s father, and while your child may know this, too, it is important that you establish paternity legally. This is especially true if you and your child’s mother are not together. FindLaw shares three major legal implications of paternity for the father, the mother and the child.

Legal implications for the father

The biggest reason you want to establish paternity is so that you can gain the visitation and custody rights to your child to which the law entitles you. If you and your child’s mother were not together at the time of birth and the mother wishes to put your child up for adoption, claiming paternity can help you prevent that.

Legal implications for the mother

For the mother, establishing paternity is the best way to ensure you, the father, remain accountable for your fair share of support and responsibility. Your child’s mother may order tests if you deny paternity. If the tests come back positive, the courts can then compel you to pay support.

Legal implications for the child

The legal implications for a child who has a legally established father are huge. For your child, establishing paternity means he or she enjoys full financial support from both parents. It means he or she has the right to inherit from you, the right to access information about your family’s health history, and the right to receive aid and shelter from you. Legal paternity also grants your child the right to sue negligent parties should they cause your death and the right to receive workers’ compensation or other benefits should you sustain an injury or die in an accident. The most important benefit of paternity to your child, however, is the emotional security that often comes with knowing who one’s father is.

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