Most people have heard of contested paternity suits outside of marriage, but not all procedures to establish paternity are contested. It is not uncommon for an unwed couple to voluntarily establish paternity of their child.
In many instances, a father may be very willing to support a child, but simply wants to ensure that he is indeed the biological parent. He may want a family court’s determination before he commits to making child support payments and being emotionally involved with the child. In this situation, it is still advisable to speak with a family law attorney to discuss child support and custody issues should paternity be established.
Other Reasons for Voluntary Paternity
When the two parents of a child have different expectations of their relationship as parents, issues can arise that may cause the alleged father to voluntarily establish paternity. For example, some fathers believe they have been unjustly denied knowledge of, or access to, children they may have fathered. For example, the mother wants no further involvement or contact with the father and does not want the father involved in the child’s life. Fortunately, the father does have rights and can pursue paternity. A family law attorney specializing in men’s rights can help you understand your specific right and responsibilities, as well as the process of voluntary paternity.
Another reason a man may want to establish paternity is to avoid unwelcome surprises in the future. For instance, a man may not want to learn until years later, and possibly at an inopportune time, that they have fathered a child. To ensure against this, a man may wish to voluntarily submit to DNA testing. In some (limited) circumstances they may even be able to compel a woman with whom they had prior sexual contact to undergo a pregnancy test. A man alleging that he is the father of an expected child has legal standing to initiate a paternity action. This action may help bring closure to the relationship, and men know their future lives will not be surprised by news of having children unknown to him.
How to Voluntarily Establish Paternity
A father can execute an affidavit acknowledging paternity, which eliminates the need for a court action. The affidavit must also be signed by both mother and father, notarized, and filed with the court. Once a paternity affidavit is filed and signed by a judge, the father cannot later attempt to rescind or void the affidavit. If the father’s name does not already appear on the child’s birth certificate, a corrected one will be reissued with the names of both parents.
A father may want to file a paternity affidavit to remove the stigma a child may feel in the future of feeling unwanted. When a man willingly signs a paternity affidavit, the court may, at the same time, rule on child support, custody and other issues for the father who plans to have an active role in a child’s life.
Filing a voluntary paternity for a child is beneficial for the child as well as for the alleged father. The father has the opportunity to be actively involved in the child’s life emotionally and financially. The father can also avoid being involved in a surprise, and potentially awkward, paternity suit by taking steps to determine if he is the father of a child or not. By being proactive and discussing his case with a family law attorney, a man can have a fairer and less frustrating experience for everyone involved.