Hanover Paternity Lawyer
Establishing paternity can be a straightforward process when both parents want to be and desire the other to be involved in their child’s life. However, when the parents’ beliefs about what is best for their child do not align, this process can become more challenging.
In Massachusetts, when a married couple has a child, the husband is presumed to be the legal father and is immediately granted legal custody over that child. When a child is born to an unmarried couple, however, the law does not make this presumption, and only the mother has legal right to the child until a Court orders otherwise. This can lead to disputes between parents about the rights and obligations of each party.
A Hanover paternity lawyer from our firm can help with the legal process of establishing or confirming the identity of a child’s father and helping him obtain legal rights to that child. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our team has the knowledge and skill to handle any paternity challenges that may arise in a specific case.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Hanover
Establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between a father and his child. One of the most notable benefits to creating this legal relationship is a father’s ability to obtain certain parenting rights, such as custody or visitation. However, establishing paternity also initiates parental obligations as well.
One of the most significant responsibilities being the obligation to financially provide for the child. This could be important in situations where a mother is seeking financial support from her child’s father. After determining the identity of her child’s father, she could petition for child support and would not have to worry about financially providing for her child alone. A Hanover attorney can explain the various benefits of establishing paternity in a particular case.
Other benefits to establishing paternity would be that the child can qualify for public and private benefits through the father, be eligible to inherit from the father, and, that if anything were to happen to the mother, the father would be able to take custody of the child and care for the child without having to seek court intervention first.
The Legal Presumption of Paternity
State law presumes that when a child is born to a married couple, the husband is the legal father. In this situation, the husband’s name will be listed on the child’s birth certificate. If the husband knows he is not the child’s biological father, he must sign a denial of paternity and the biological father must sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity.
The paternity process is different if an unmarried woman has a child. In this case, the father’s name is not automatically put on the birth certificate. If the father’s name is not put on the birth certificate, the parties would need to establish paternity legally. Because the legal process for demonstrating paternity can be complicated, it may be in a party’s best interests to seek assistance from an experienced lawyer in Hanover.
How Do Parents Establish Paternity?
There are two ways to establish paternity in Massachusetts. The first is done with both parents’ agreement and the father signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity. The second involves a court proceeding where a DNA test will be conducted to determine who the biological father is.
If a father signs an Acknowledgment of Paternity when the child is born, he only has 60 days to request that a court cancel or rescind the paternity acknowledgment. After that, it can be very difficult to undo, even if you find out later that you are not the actual biological father.
Unless you are extremely certain that you are the father, you should not sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity before you confirm the child is biologically yours. An attorney in Hanover could determine which process for establishing paternity is most suitable on a case-by-case basis.
If both parties agree about who the child’s father is, the father may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Parents may obtain this form from the hospital where the child was born, the Massachusetts State Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, the court clerk’s office in the town where the child was born, or a local courthouse.
Parties who sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment only have 60 days to request that a Judge rescind or cancel it. If they do not revoke it in that time, the alleged father on this form can be held legally responsible for the child. If a parent wishes to challenge a Voluntary Acknowledgment after 60 days, they must prove fraud, which can be extremely challenging. Therefore, one should not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment unless they are absolutely sure of the identity of the father. Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment means that the man listed is now presumed to be the father; however, that does not, in and of itself, grant that man legal rights over the child.
Demonstrating Paternity in Court
If the parties cannot agree on paternity, either the mother or the alleged father may file a Complaint to Establish Paternity in Probate and Family Court. A judge will usually order both parents and the child to submit to genetic marker testing (DNA testing). If genetic testing proves that the alleged father is the biological parent, the Judge can order for the birth certificate to be amended to add the father’s name. A judge may then also create a parenting plan, order child support, or make modifications to any existing orders. A lawyer in Hanover can guide a parent or alleged parent through the paternity action court process.
Speak with a Hanover Paternity Attorney
Pursuing this type of legal action by yourself can be difficult, especially if there are disputes regarding who the father is in a particular case. Therefore, if you are going through this type of situations, contact our dedicated team today. One of our experienced Hanover paternity lawyers can be by your side every step of the way.