In Massachusetts, if the father and mother of a newborn are not married at the time of birth, they must legally establish paternity in court. To complete this process, the parents must either sign an or establish paternity through a court of jurisdiction. However, you must establish paternity through these avenues, or you won’t be viewed as the father of your child in the eyes of the law and you will not have any legal rights to them.
Establishing Paternity Without a Court Order
If you and the mother of your child are not married but recognize that you are the father of the child, you can establish paternity without entering a courtroom. Both parents must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital. This form legally authorizes the father to obtain the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent.
Upon signing this document, Massachusetts allows the father 60 days to demand a paternity test (if paternity falls into question later). Once this time limit is up, the father will only be able to rescind paternity if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he is not the biological father.
Establishing Paternity with a Court Order
Some unwed birth mothers have a more difficult time establishing paternity of their child’s father, especially if the father is unwilling to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. If this happens, the mother must take the case to court. There are many reasons to establish paternity, and the court does not limit this court action to only the birth mother. To execute a Complaint to Establish Paternity, the interested party must be the:
- birth mother;
- alleged birth father;
- grandparents; or
- personal representative or guardian of the child.
Additionally, if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an interest in the welfare of the child, the state can also file a complaint action to establish paternity.
After a complaint action has been filed against the alleged father, he must submit to a DNA test to prove he is the biological father. If he is, he will obtain all the rights and responsibilities of a birth father.
Pursuing Your Child’s Best Interest
If you are having an issue establishing the paternity of your child, our family law attorneys can help. We will guide you through the entire court proceeding and do everything we can to ensure your child builds a relationship with both birth parents.