Why It Is Important to Establish Legal Paternity

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When a child is born, the benefits of establishing legal paternity go well beyond the immediacy of printing a name on the child’s birth record. Paternity brings with it special rights and responsibilities that impact the child, the father, and the child’s mother. 

Paternity and Legal Rights

A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form signed in the hospital at birth and filed with the state may allow some rights, such as to insure a child, but it can be deficient as to other important legal rights without a court action. Without a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, you may not have any rights. A paternity action can create the right to the following and more:

  • Right to health insurance
  • Right to child support
  • Right to inheritance
  • Social security benefits, if the father should become disabled or pass away
  • Right to tribal enrollment for Native American children
  • Right for child’s doctor to be given access to the father’s family medical history

When paternity is established, these rights can be guaranteed.

Paternity and Rights for the Father

The father receives important rights to the child when paternity is established, which can include the following:

  • Right to pursue legal custody and physical placement
  • Right to seek legal child custody, includes the right to make major decisions for the child, including decisions regarding religion, education, non-emergency medical, whether a child can obtain his or her driver’s license, and whether that child can enter the military or marry before the age of 18.
  • It can also include the legal right to contest termination of parental rights and adoption

With rights comes responsibilities; once paternity is established, fathers also may be asked to provide child support and health insurance for the child.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

In addition to the legal rights that come with establishing paternity, there are obvious other important aspects to achieving legal fatherhood, which includes spending substantial time with the child, having a strong role in the child’s life, and having a say in the major decisions concerning the child.

To discuss paternity issues and how paternity is established in Wisconsin, speak with an experienced family law attorney.

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