Paternity and determining paternity is an important part of the family law legal process. Paternity is always an issue when children are born to unmarried parents. Before a father can obtain rights to his child, including custody and visitation, paternity must be determined. Before the responsibilities for a child can be ordered, paternity must be established.
Paternity impacts the mother, father and child and the family as a whole. It impacts child custody, child support and visitation and relocation issues. Child custody concerns can include both physical and legal custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions for the child including medical decisions, relocation decisions and religious or education decisions for the child. Without a determination of paternity and child custody agreement, an unmarried father does not have legal rights to make legal decisions concerning the child.
Both mothers and fathers may wish to determine the paternity of the child. Paternity of the child refers to the determination of the child’s biological father and can be established through genetic testing agreed to by the mother and putative father or ordered by the court. Once paternity has been determined, child custody can be worked out and agreed to and child support can be ordered. Paternity is an important beginning step in the child custody and child support processes.
Paternity determinations can serve different, yet equally important, purposes for a mother seeking child support, a father seeking child custody or a child seeking a determination of the child’s biological father. The family law process facilitates paternity determinations, child custody agreements and child support orders for the purposes of helping families with the legal issues that are important to them and have a significant impact in their lives.