What is Paternity?
Paternity exists in the situation that a child is born to parents who are not married, there is no legal bond between father and child, that is until legal fatherhood is reached. The establishment in a court of law of this fatherhood is known as paternity.
Establishing paternity is important to the growth, love and future health of the child; every child deserves to know who their legal father is. This legal bond is important to all families, even in the situation that the parents do not reside together. When paternity is established, not only is this verifying the legal identity of the father and affording him rights to see and be a part of the child's life, it is also giving the mother rights and benefits upheld by law.
Who can file for paternity?
From the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209C, that list includes:
- The mother
- A person presumed to be the father
- A person alleging himself to be the father
- The child, whether or not a minor
- The child's guardian, next of kin, or "stand-in guardian"
- The parent or personal representative of the mother in the case of death or abandoment
- The parent or personal representative of the father if the father has died
- Any agency that has custody of the child; or the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division if the child has received public assistance, on behalf of the agency providing the assistance
Filing is free, and you must also include a copy of the child's birth certificate and an Affidavit of Care and Custody.
How is paternity established?
The court will typically order a genetic marker test to be performed by a laboratory approved by the court. An affidavit by the mother, or by the putative father claiming the sexual intercourse between them occurred during that period of conception, is all that is required. This comes with one exception: If the mother was married to another individual during which the claim of paternity is being made, the individual the mother was married to will also have to undergo a genetic marker test.
What can the court do besides order the genetic marker test?
- Order child support
- Order the father or mother to provide health insurance for the child
- Grant a restraining order for the mother or child's safety
- Grant a custody
- Order visitation rights and times
If you need help filing a paternity suit, then contact a Worcester divorce lawyer for compassionate and skilled guidance during this difficult period and learn how we can help you.