Why is it important to establish paternity?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2021 | Family Law |

Many Virginia fathers may not realize it but they do not have parental rights unless they have established paternity of their children. If the father is married to the mother, there is generally no need to establish paternity. However, in the case of unmarried fathers, paternity must be established. While some unmarried fathers may want to establish paternity in order to ask for child custody or visitation rights, some mothers may want it in order to demand child support from the father. Either way, establishing paternity is the first step to take.

How is paternity established?

If the parents are unmarried at the time the child is born, paternity has to be legally established. In some instances, this can be as straightforward as filling out and signing a statement acknowledging paternity in front of the relevant agency. In contentious cases, a DNA test provides conclusive evidence that the Court relies on to pass an order about the biological father’s identity.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Generally, children benefit psychologically and physically when both parents play an active role in their upbringing. Courts also tend to prefer ordering joint child custody, awarding both parents as much of an equal say in raising their child as possible. However, this depends on each individual situation. Where joint custody is not an option, courts will use paternity to pass a child support order. The biological father will then have to contribute financially every month and ease the mother’s financial burden with regards to raising their child. If the father misses a payment, he will face legal consequences.

There can be a number of reasons Virginia parents want to establish paternity. Those who want to understand how it will affect their parenting and child custody arrangements may want to consider consulting an experienced family law attorney.