Paternity is the determination of who a child’s legal father is, as well as the rights related to being the father of the child. When someone establishes paternity, they have been named the legal father of the child.
If the parents of the child are married to one another when the child is born, paternity is automatically established. The husband is the legal father (even if he isn’t the biological father) and will be placed on the child’s birth certificate. If the parents of the child are not married to each other when the child is born, paternity must be established before the father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate.
Paternity can be established in one of two ways: voluntarily or involuntarily.
A voluntary acknowledgment of parentage is when:
- the mother and father mutually agree he is the biological father;
- the parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage; and
- file the document with the Registry of Vital Records.
Once this voluntary acknowledgment of parentage is filed, the father is the legal father of the child and his name will be added to the birth certificate.
If the father of the child will not willfully take responsibility, the mother can seek a court order of paternity.
An order of paternity can be sought by the:
- alleged father;
- child’s guardian; or
- a representative of a Massachusetts public assistance program.
The person seeking paternity establishment is called the petitioner. The petitioner needs to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity with a court to begin the process. A court may order DNA testing to help determine the parentage. If the alleged father is found to be the biological father of the child, his name will be added to the birth certificate and he will be responsible for any child custody obligations.
Barach Law Group LLC Can Help Establish Paternity
Our attorneys are highly skilled at dealing with establishing paternity when the alleged father won’t do so voluntarily. We can help you construct a child support plan that caters to your child’s best interests.