Although parentage is generally addressed for the purposes of providing financial support for a child, it is so much more in the life of a child. Parentage is the establishment of a legal relationship between a father and child to provide basic emotional, social, and economic ties.
Parentage permits children the right to inheritance, medical and life insurance benefits, social security, and potentially veterans’ benefits. With the establishment of parentage comes the opportunity for children to develop a sense of familial identity and a connection with the father’s side of the family. It may also be crucial for access to the father’s family health history in medical crises.
Legal parents have the right to be notified of adoption proceedings, juvenile court hearings, and custody hearings involving a child. They also may have the right of access to and receive copies of school, medical, dental, religious training, and other important records and information about a child.
The voluntary establishment of parentage is one of the first opportunities for a father to demonstrate his commitment to a child. Recent studies show that establishing paternity not only affirms a father’s legal rights and responsibilities but is linked to higher levels of subsequent paternal involvement and support, as well as a host of positive child outcomes.
Generally, the husband is considered the legal father of a child when that child is born in wedlock. When a child is born outside of marriage, determining parentage is a necessary procedure to establish a legal relationship between a father and a child. This is typically performed by court order or an affidavit acknowledging paternity.
Until a man is proven to be a child’s biological father or voluntarily acknowledges paternity, he has no enforceable parental rights to access and custody of that child. This permits the mother of the child to allow or withhold visitation at will.
In order for an unmarried father to gain legal decision-making power and a parenting time schedule, that father must first establish the biological parentage of a child. Once paternity is established, an unmarried father may seek custody rights.
A man has the right to petition the court to establish paternity on his own initiative, with or without the mother’s cooperation. Along with the obligation to support one’s natural child comes the right to share in the care, custody, and control of that child. Establishing paternity is a critical first step.
Both lawyers and judges rely on DNA genetic testing through approved certified laboratories for accurate test results when establishing parentage.
If you or a loved one have questions about establishing parentage in Maricopa or Pinal County, Wilson Wilson-Goodman, PLLC, can help. Our experienced Chandler divorce attorneys will provide you with the guidance and support needed to ensure that the parentage of your child is established and groundwork is put in place for meaningful lifelong contact with your child.
Contact our office today to schedule your confidential consultation.