Once paternity is established, a number of benefits can accrue to both custodial and noncustodial parents.
Why is it Important to Formally Establish Paternity?
It is important to formally identify a child’s father through a process called paternity establishment. By using this process, the father will be legally identified as the child’s father. Once paternity establishment has occurred, the child may be able to claim certain benefits, which include:
- Access to the child’s full family medical history
- Government benefits, such as social security and veteran’s dependent benefits, through the father
- Medical insurance, through the father’s health plan if he has one
- Life insurance policies and other inheritance benefits through the father
- Financial support from both parents
- Visitation or custody by the father in certain cases
- Potential for establishing a positive bond with the father
What is the Process for Formally Identifying the Father?
There are three ways to establish paternity for a child:
- Marriage – if the parents of the child marry before the child’s birth, the husband is the legal father of the child. This “presumption of paternity” can be challenged in court.
- Paternity Affidavit – a Paternity Affidavit is a legal form which may be signed by the parents. The man who signs the Paternity Affidavit is considered the legal father of the child.
- Court Order – a court may determine the legal father of a child. Usually a genetic test of the mother, father, and child is required.
A child support agency may be able to assist in the paternity establishment process where a Paternity Affidavit or a court order is required.
How will Establishing Paternity benefit both Custodial and Noncustodial Parents?
Once paternity is established, a number of benefits can accrue to both custodial and noncustodial parents:
- The father’s name can be included on the child’s birth certificate
- A child support obligation can be set so that financial support can begin to flow to the family
- The father will have the right to seek court-ordered custody and visitation
- The father will have the right to be informed and have a say in any adoption proceedings involving the child
Comments or More Information
This is one in a series of fact sheets on asset-building, fatherhood, and child support services produced by the Assets for Independence Resource Center. For more information, visit the resource center website at www.IDAresources.org or contact the center on 1-866-778-6037 or via email at info@IDAresources.org. A list of all state CS agencies can be found at: