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What is the legal significance of paternity?

Establishing paternity is critical for fathers to gain parental rights. How you establish paternity depends upon the circumstances of the birth, relationship between the parents and the relationship between the father and child. Paternity carries significant legal consequences for the child, mother and father. This article will explore those consequences and how they may apply to you.

As a general rule, if you want to gain parental rights, you'll want to establish paternity as soon as possible. If paternity is established, the father is liable for the support of the child. This means that you must pay child support for your share of the child?s expenses like food, shelter, medical costs and education expenses. The court will determine your child support based on your income and the child?s needs. If you refuse to make these payments, the court can compel you with orders and, if necessary, wage garnishment.

You also gain visitation and custody rights, which grants you the opportunity to develop a relationship with your child. You have a say in how the child is raised. Additionally, if the mother is considering giving the child up for adoption, she must obtain your consent in order for the adoption to go through. Since you now have custody rights over the child, both you and the mother must consent to any adoption.

Establishing paternity also has implications for your child. Your child is now able to inherit from you, and it also unlocks government benefits such as worker?s compensation, death benefits or disability. Your child may also inherit from your estate and get medical history information. Your child gains access to your income, estate and any information necessary for their future well-being (like you and your family's medical history).

If you are considering a paternity action or are the subject of one, then you may want to consult with a family law attorney. Paternity carries serious legal consequences that impact your responsibilities, income and estate and an attorney can walk you through everything.

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