If unwed at the time of your child’s birth, the law does not presume you as the father. While you may choose to fill that role without taking any action, to fully enact your rights as a biological parent, you must establish paternity.
It may seem a small thing, especially if you already play a role in your child’s life, but legally establishing paternity offers benefits to your child, you and your child’s other parent.
Benefits to your child
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, establishing paternity gives your child personal and legal benefits. Taking this step may create basic emotional and social ties between you and your child. It allows your child to establish a connection with you, and to know your family and where he or she comes from. Additionally, it gives your child access to the health histories from both sides of his or her family, which may prove vital in certain medical situations. Indications suggest that children grow up more successful when their fathers play active roles in their lives. Establishing paternity also allows your child the right to receive your medical and life insurance benefits, the right to claim Social Security or veterans’ benefits in your name, and the right to inherit from your estate.
Benefits to you
For you, establishing paternity allows you to create a connection and economic ties between you and your child. Taking this legal step provides the basis for the court to issue support obligations, letting you provide financially for your child. It also gives you legal grounds to ensure that whatever happens between you and your child’s other parent, you may maintain your relationship with your child.