When it comes to being a parent, the courts will often look to the rights of the child, and children have a legal right to receive support and to know both of their parents. When there is a question about who the father of a child is, the child may in turn miss out on emotional and financial benefits from an individual who is meant to be a central source of support in their life. 

If a child is born within wedlock, paternity is presumed to be that of the husband without a challenge. Alternatively, when the parents of a couple are not married when the child is born, then there are no automatic presumptions about paternity, and instead it must be filed for. Working with a knowledgeable Westborough paternity attorney from O’Connor Family Law will provide you with the support and information you need to process your paternity concerns as effectively as possible. 

The Birth Certificate is a Part of the Process but Not Sufficient Alone

Following the birth of a child in Massachusetts, the mother and father of the child are able to complete an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. If this form is completed, then the name of the father is placed on the birth certificate of the child. Even if the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is filled out and the name of the father is listed on the birth certificate, those two items alone do not grant the father any actual legal rights concerning the child. 

When the name of the father is on the birth certificate of a child, the legal process to establish paternity is more straightforward and linear. With the name of the father on the birth certificate, a paternity test is not always essential to be completed before visitation, custody, and child support are ordered. To gain these rights in Massachusetts, the father of the child files a document called the Complaint for Custody, Support, and Parenting Time. 

Without a Birth Certificate a Paternity Test is Essential 

When there is no birth certificate for a child, or if there is uncertainty as to who the biological father is, then it is necessary that a Complaint to Establish Paternity is filed. Through the Complaint to Establish Paternity, a paternity test is ordered, and the results of the test determine whether or not the man in question is the biological father of the child. The findings of a paternity test can strongly influence a child’s life, and it is helpful to work with a Westborough paternity attorney for help with your case, to protect both your and your child’s rights. 

Agreement Between Parents Matters in Terms of Paternity 

Parents who are married at the time of the birth of the child face a different prospect than those that were not in terms of paternity. There is an automatic presumption that the married father of the mother is the child’s legal father. This presumption can work in the favor of the father if maintaining legal parental rights is the goal, however, if the man is not the biological father of the child and does not want to have legal obligations to the child, the presumption of paternity can work against him. 

In Massachusetts, it is also worth noting that if a child is born within 300 days of a married couple divorcing, the husband from that marriage is presumed to be the legal father of the child. This applies even when it is clear that the ex-husband could not be the biological father as a result of a lack of intimacy. The fact that a non-biological father can be listed as the legal father of a child following divorce without any possibility of biological paternity underlines the value of working with an experienced and knowledgeable Westborough paternity attorney from O’Connor Family Law. 

If a child’s parents were not married prior to, at the time of, or following the date of the child’s birth, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209C Sec. 6 determines that a man is presumed to be the legal father of a child, and must be included in any litigation surrounding the child, if the following conditions are met: 

  • Engaged in activities and conduct that could be interpreted as acknowledging paternity 
  • Agreed to child support through a voluntary written promise 
  • Cohabited with the mother, and took the child into their home while openly acknowledging the child as their own 
  • Signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, and did not file an objection to paternity in a reasonable period of time

While these factors can grant a man paternity, they do not grant the presumed father legal rights over the child if they were born out of wedlock, which only the court has the power to grant. 

Establishing paternity provides the following benefits to the father:

  • Legal rights and responsibilities concerning the child, including support,l visitation, and custody
  • An emotional connection with the child through their knowing the identity of both parents
  • Financial support ensures that the child is provided with support from both parents, ranging from financial resources, healthcare, inheritance, and other benefits
  • When both parents are known, their medical history is likewise known which can be helpful in terms of certain genetic conditions or predispositions in the child 

Establishing Paternity: Writing Your Family’s Story with Legal Recognition

The sooner you’ve got an experienced family law lawyer by your side to help with your paternity concerns, the sooner you can feel comfortable that the best possible outcome will be achieved. Waiting can disadvantage your case and position, so connect with the highly experienced paternity attorneys from O’Connor Family Law for your initial consultation. Contact us online or give us a call at 774-703-3755 to learn how we can help.