Should you establish paternity after your children are born?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Family Law

When a baby is born, many special moments occur, ranging from the first hug to the first picture. Among these critical initial steps, one often overlooked is the immediate establishment of legal paternity. This process is not just a bureaucratic procedure; it carries substantial implications for both the child and the parents.

In California, if the parents are not married at the time of a child’s birth, there is no automatic legal relationship between the father and the child. Establishing paternity, or officially identifying the biological father, offers legal, emotional and financial benefits that can impact a child’s life.

Understanding legal rights and responsibilities

Establishing paternity grants the father legal rights to the child. This includes the right to seek custody and visitation. It also gives the child a legal father, which is critical should any disputes about the child’s upbringing arise. Furthermore, it imposes on the father the legal responsibility to financially support his child. These rights and responsibilities serve to protect the child and ensure their best interests.

Additionally, it allows the father to make major decisions in the child’s life, such as education and medical treatment. Recognizing paternity allows both parents to have a say in shaping their child’s future.

Access to vital information and benefits

Establishing paternity also allows the child access to vital medical history information. Knowledge of the father’s medical history can be invaluable in predicting or diagnosing genetic conditions. It also opens access to financial benefits such as social security, veterans’ benefits and inheritance rights.

Moreover, the child can benefit emotionally from having a legally acknowledged father. It can create a sense of identity and security, contributing to the child’s overall psychological well-being.

The process of establishing paternity in California

In California, the easiest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a voluntary “Declaration of Paternity” at the hospital right after the child is born. This form legally establishes the man as the child’s father without going to court. If both parents are not ready to sign this document immediately after birth, they can complete it at a later date.

Establishing paternity as soon as possible after a child is born is crucial. It is more than just a formality; it is a step that can significantly impact the child’s and the parents’ lives. By recognizing legal paternity, you are setting a solid foundation for your child’s future, legally, emotionally and financially.

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