In many situations, if the father of a child wants to enforce parenting rights or the mother of a child wants to obtain child support, Massachusetts law requires them to take formal action to establish legal paternity of the child.
Reade Law Firm, PC is ready to assist. We can help you determine whether legal action is required and the best way to establish paternity in your particular situation. Massachusetts law presumes it is in a child’s best interests to have meaningful contact with both parents, but they do not always make the process easy. Working with an experienced legal advisor can help you avoid potential problems and achieve your goals with minimal delays.
The Importance of Paternity and Parentage
Without legal paternity and parentage, there is no legal connection between the child and the parent. Both the child and the parent can suffer tremendously from this lack of connection. When you establish parentage or paternity:
- The child gains a crucial sense of identity
- The parent gains the ability to seek visitation or custody of the child
- The child gains the legal right to financial support from the parent
- The child can gain access to health insurance and other benefits from the parent’s employer or other sources
- The child can inherit from the parent
- The parent may be able to participate in the child’s education and other aspects of the child’s life
In cases of biological paternity, establishing the certainty of the connection can give the child critical information about family health history.
When Paternity or Parentage is Not Presumed
Massachusetts law presumes that a man is the father of a child born while he was married to the child’s mother or if the child is born within 300 days of the date the marriage ended. When parents are not married, a father or second parent can sign a birth certificate, and will be presumed the father.
If a birth certificate is not signed, both parents may sign a parentage acknowledgment form, and the form must be notarized. After 60- days, the acknowledgment becomes as binding as a court judgment. If both parents do not voluntarily agree to sign this form, then paternity or parentage must be established through court action.
Establishment of Paternity in Court
Either a parent or the child can ask for the court to establish legal paternity or parentage. The court can order the mother, child, and presumed father to submit to genetic marker tests in many situations. Fathers seeking to enforce parental rights are also generally encouraged to undergo voluntary testing before pursuing legal action. The tests are simple and generally considered very reliable.
After a judge reviews test results and other information, the court will issue a determination as to whether the man is the child’s father. If the determination is yes, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate and legal parentage is established.
Help from the Team at Reade Law Firm, PC
Paternity is often a complicated subject, and one that is always emotional. At Reade Law Firm, PC, we know what is at stake, and we approach every situation with respect and compassion. We work hard to help you achieve your goals and serve the best interests of your family and your future.
If you have questions about legal paternity and parentage, we invite you to schedule a consultation to learn more about the ways we can assist.