Paternity

Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between a father and a child. Establishing a legal father for a child may provide that child many potential benefits. Some of those benefits include:

  • A sense of belonging because the child knows both parents.
  • If your child becomes sick, the family doctor will appreciate a full family medical history.
  • Your child may be eligible for government benefits such as social security or veteran's dependent benefits.
  • Your child may qualify for medical insurance coverage through the father's health plan and could become the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Your child may also have the right to future inheritance benefits.
  • Your child will become eligible for financial support from both parents.
  • Your child may be able to have regularly scheduled residential time with each parent, including holidays and vacations.

Usually, it is best to establish paternity through the courts if there is any question about the identity of the father. Sometimes this occurs when the mother believes there is more than one possible father. There may be other reasons also. For example, if either the man or the woman is unsure about signing the affidavit of paternity when the child is born or the woman's husband is unwilling to sign a denial, then establishing paternity in court may be the best option.

If the state is trying to establish paternity, a county prosecutor will usually serve legal papers upon the possible father or fathers. Often, the prosecutor or the court will require the mother, possible father, and the child to submit to genetic tests. Custody and visitation issues are usually addressed in a legal document called a Parenting Plan. Regardless of whether paternity was established through marriage, affidavit, or the courts, only the courts may address legal custody and visitation issues. Therefore, a parentage action must be filed with a court. Often parents can agree on a parenting plans and avoid the emotional and financial costs of extended litigation. If you are a parent who needs to establish paternity for your child, call (206)697-2099 or go to the Contact page for more information.