Why is it important to establish legal paternity?
Under certain circumstances, a child is presumed to be the offspring of a woman and a particular man. For example, when the child is born to a married Illinois couple then it is presumed that the man and woman are the child’s biological parents. However, as readers of this family legal blog know, not all children are born to couples who have chosen to establish their relationships through marriage.
When questions exist regarding the parentage of a child, it is important for men to work toward establishing paternity. While the identity of a child’s mother is rarely in question, the identity of their father can be less straightforward and can require testing to prove or disprove that a man is biologically related to the youth.
If a man believes that he is a child’s father but is not legally recognized as such, he can lose out on many important parental rights. For example, a man who is not established as a child’s biological father may not gain custody or visitation time with their child. If the mother of the child chooses to give the child up for adoption, a man who is not proven to be the child’s father may not be able to stop the adoption proceedings.
Fathers who have been proven to be the biological parents of their children can fight to be involved in the upbringing of their kids. Establishing paternity can be an involved process and can require genetic testing to prove a biological link between a man and his presumptive child. Attorneys who advocate for fathers’ rights can support men who are prepared to begin the important work of proving their paternity of their children.