Posted on behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA
There are many single parents in Maryland, and across the country, and that number is increasing in this generation more than any previous generation in recorded history. While many people choose to raise their children as single parents, those who haven’t looked into the issue of establishing paternity may want to consider educating themselves on the subject, as they may be missing out on valuable benefits that could substantially improve their children’s lives.
Perhaps the main reasons to seek an order establishing paternity are financial in nature, as every parent knows how important it is to provide as much financial security as possible for his or her child. By law, the child’s father is legally responsible for the financial support of the child, and in most cases will be required to pay child support. The child also becomes eligible to inherit from the father, including life insurance, Social Security benefits and other benefits. In some cases, the child may also be able to get health insurance benefits from the established father.
Depending on the situation, some single parents may see an emotional reason to establish paternity and encourage a child to develop a relationship with the established father. Of course, every situation is different and parents should carefully consider the well-being of their children in these situations.
By establishing paternity, the father also obtains legal standing to request child custody or visitation with the child, and depending on the circumstances, the court may grant the father these privileges whether or not the other parent agrees . A petition to establish paternity can be filed by either the mother or the father, so there is the possibility of a custody dispute in some cases.
Establishing paternity can be a relatively simple legal process, but the ramifications can last a child’s entire lifetime. People considering establishing paternity in Maryland may wish to consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney for more information.
Source: Maryland Department of Human Resources – Establishing Paternity accessed on Dec. 20, 2014