There are lots of reasons why you should take the time to legally establish your paternity. Sure, you do not need to be a child’s legal parent to be part of his or her life. But if you are not a child’s legal parent, his or her actual legal parent can determine the extent of your relationship and decide to terminate it if he or she wants to.
When a married couple has a child, both parents are automatically the child’s legal parents. When a child is born to unmarried parents, they must independently establish the child’s paternity. They can do this voluntarily or they can work with the court to legally determine the child’s parentage. A few of the most pressing reasons to establish your child’s paternity are:
In order to have legal rights to your child in court, you must be his or her legal parent. Without being his or her legal parent, you cannot:
In order to access certain benefits, your child must legally be your dependent. These benefits include:
Additionally, being your child’s legal parent can eliminate hurdles he or she might otherwise face when accessing your assets after your death. Many individuals open life insurance policies to provide for their loved ones after their deaths, and by establishing your paternity, you can ensure that your child receives a share of your life insurance benefits in the event of your death.
Establishing your paternity will also enable him or her to recover his or her fair share of your other assets through the probate process if your estate goes to probate.
This last point is a personal one; how much having a legal tie to your child impacts your relationship with he or she is really up to you. For some people, it means nothing – the bond exists regardless of legal status. For others, having that shared legal status brings the parent and child closer together, making them feel like a “real” family regardless of whether they share DNA. Establishing a legal relationship can give your child access to his or her grandparents and other relatives, expanding his or her sense of family.
You do not have to be a child’s biological parent to be his or her legal parent. When you need to establish your paternity, do so with an experienced family lawyer by your side. To get started with one of the family lawyers at Van Den Heuvel Law Office, contact our firm to schedule your initial legal consultation.
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