Under the law, unless an unwed couple takes steps to acknowledge their child’s paternity, the birth mother is the child’s only recognized parent. Having only one legal parent puts the child at a disadvantage in many ways.

The law allows unmarried parents to establish their child’s paternity and ensure the child has two legal parents. It also permits a parent or other interested parties to go to court to verify a child’s paternity.

Contact a Southbury paternity lawyer when you have questions about establishing your child’s legal parentage. A skilled family attorney can represent you through legal proceedings regarding a child’s paternity.

Reasons to Establish Paternity

Sometimes, people are reluctant to go through the process of establishing paternity or feel that doing so is not important. However, having two legal parents can be critically important to a child, even when they have little opportunity to know their father.

When a child has two legal parents, each is responsible for financial support. If one parent dies or becomes unable to look after the child, having another legal parent able to step in could keep the child out of the foster care system. If the father receives veteran’s benefits or some other public benefits, the child may be eligible to receive them, too. Legal parents and their children can inherit from each other when one dies.

Legal parents have the right to request custody and visitation, although a court will only award custody or visitation when it is in the child’s best interests. A seasoned Southbury paternity attorney can help a parent seek or defend an action seeking visitation or custody rights. A child who knows who their father is has a firmer sense of identity, access to important medical information, and the possibility of connecting with extended family.

Voluntarily Establishing Paternity

When a baby is born, a couple can establish the child’s parentage by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital or birthing center where the baby is born. After both parents sign the form and have it notarized, the facility forwards it to the Department of Public Health. The father’s name cannot be on the child’s birth certificate unless the parents sign the form.

If parents do not complete the form at the hospital, they can do so later at any Department of Social Services (DSS) office. Parents can complete the form without charge at the DSS office even if nobody in the family is receiving services from DSS. However, if the child’s birth has already been registered when the parents sign the acknowledgment, they may have to pay a fee to change the child’s birth certificate.

Married or unmarried couples in the LGBTQ community who use assisted reproduction to have a child can sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage form at the hospital or any DSS office thereafter. The acknowledgment establishes the couple as the child’s legal parents and bestows all the rights and responsibilities of parents on both partners. However, the couple should also consider a second-parent adoption to ensure their status as parents will be recognized throughout the United States. A qualified paternity lawyer in Southbury can explain whether adoption is a prudent step in a specific case.

Asking a Court To Declare Parentage

According to Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-560, the court can determine paternity when a parent, guardian, or child brings a legal action to declare a specific person a child’s legal father. If the mother and child are receiving public benefits, DSS can bring a paternity action to establish the father’s obligation to pay child support. A Southbury attorney can help either a parent or a child request a declaration of paternity.

The person seeking a determination of paternity files a petition seeking a declaration of parentage, the court schedules a hearing, and the other interested parties are notified. In some cases, the parents agree to acknowledge paternity before the hearing date. However, if there is no agreement, the court will order a genetic test.

When a genetic test indicates that the man is a child’s biological father, the court will issue a declaration of parentage and consider whether he should pay child support. Once declared the legal father, the man has the right to visitation and could request custody rights.

Consult a Southbury Attorney About Paternity Issues

A child is at a disadvantage emotionally and financially when they have only one legal parent. Establishing paternity is a gift for your child.

However, being a legal parent is a huge responsibility and not one you should take on if you are not certain you are a child’s father. Similarly, mothers should be reasonably certain who a child’s father is before bringing a paternity action.

Contact a Southbury paternity lawyer when you want to establish paternity or defend a paternity action. A local legal professional can provide vigorous representation to help you achieve your goals. Call today.

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220 Main Street Suite I Southbury CT 06488 (203) 806-9254