Having a child is a wonderful experience many parents look forward to. Even when the arrival of a baby is unexpected, some parents may feel such joy and intend to set aside their own plans to raise and love the child. Perhaps having a child is something you have dreamed of, or it may be a new and exciting idea since you learned your former partner was expecting. However, what if you are not certain the child is yours?
Every circumstance is different, and the reasons why you want to confirm the paternity of the child may be unique. It is an important step to take if there are questions about your relationship to the child.
The benefits of paternity
If you are married to the mother of your child, the court assumes you are the legal father. You automatically have the rights and benefits of paternity without having to prove you are the child’s father. If you and the child’s mother are not married, you will have to go through the process of proving your paternity before you can obtain parental rights and benefits. These benefits go beyond spending time with the child, which is certainly important. Other benefits for you and the child include:
- Having your name on the child’s birth certificate
- Having your child know who you are
- Providing a medical history for your child
- Providing health insurance and other financial support
- Including your child in your benefits, such as Social Security or military allowances
- Giving your child the right to inherit your estate
As an unmarried father, you will have to take steps to verify your relationship with the child. Ideally, the mother of the child will agree with you and voluntarily establish your paternity in the hospital when the child is born or at a later time. If your partner does not agree to your paternity, you may have to go to Florida family court or undergo genetic testing, which involves taking a swab from inside the cheeks of both you and the child.
If the test results confirm that you are the father of the child, the court will add your name to the birth certificate, but this does not automatically give you privileges, such as visitation or custody. To obtain these benefits, you may have to fight for them. An experienced attorney can advocate for your rights and assist you in reaching for your goals. Additionally, having legal assistance can improve the chances of getting a fair order if the child’s mother seeks child support.