Worcester Paternity Lawyers
A child has a legal right to know and receive support from both of their parents. If there is a question about who a child’s father is, the child might be denied certain emotional and financial benefits from someone who is supposed to be there for them by not having his or her father in their life. If parents are not married when their child is born, there are not any “automatics” in relation to the child’s father.
After a child is born, the mother and father can fill out an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. If this is filled out, then the father’s name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate. Even if this is filled out and the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate, those two things, in and of themselves, do not give the father any actual legal rights over the child.
When there is a birth certificate with the father’s name on it, the legal process is more straightforward and does not necessarily require a paternity test to be conducted first before custody, visitation, or child support will be ordered. In Massachusetts, the father would file what is called a Complaint for Custody, Support, and Parenting Time.
If there is not a birth certificate or there is a question of whether the father named on the birth certificate is in fact the biological father, then a Complaint to Establish Paternity must be filed. With this, there is typically a paternity test that is ordered, and, the results of the test will tell everyone whether the man is actually the father. If you have questions about establishing the identity of a child’s father, a Worcester paternity lawyer can work with you to ensure that you and your child’s rights are protected.
With over 35 years of exclusive family law experience, O’Connor Family Law understands how to pursue these cases effectively and can work hard to do what is best for you and your family. Speak with one of our attorneys by calling (774) 214-2137 today.
Establishing Paternity When Both Parties Agree on Parentage
The marital status of the parents actually matters in relation to whether the father has any presumed rights over the child or not. If the parents were married when the child was born, the husband is automatically presumed to be the child’s legal father. Not many people know it, but if a child is born within 300 days of a married couple getting a divorce, then the husband within that marriage is presumed to be the legal father of the child; even if it is clear that the husband could not be the biological father due to a lack of intimacy.
If the parents were not married before, at, or after the date the child is born, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209C §6 states that a man is presumed to be a child’s father and must be listed in any litigation surrounding the child if he:
- Agreed to support the child within a voluntary written promise.
- Engaged in conduct that can be construed as an acknowledgment of paternity.
- Lived with the mother and took the child into their home and openly acknowledged the child as their own.
- Signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and did not object to paternity within a reasonable time period.
- If the child was born before April 13, 1994, he and the mother consented to his name being placed on the child’s birth certificate.
Those things, however, do not give the presumed father legal rights over the child though. Legal custody over a child born out of wedlock can only be granted by the Court.
What Happens If Either Party Contests Paternity?
If the child’s mother or the alleged father questions the actual paternity of the child, either party could file a complaint to establish fatherhood. If a man wants to be established as the legal father but he is not on the birth certificate already, he must file a Complaint to Establish Paternity in court. The state of Massachusetts could also file this action if the child is receiving public assistance as the state wants each parent to financially support a child rather than the state solely supporting him or her. During these proceedings, a judge may order DNA testing and, if there is a genetic match, issue a paternity order identifying one party as the child’s legal father.
If the mother was married at the time of conception, during the pregnancy, or when the child was born, her husband would be deemed the child’s legal father. If testing establishes someone other than the husband as the father, the mother and her husband must sign a Massachusetts Affidavit of Non-Paternity, acknowledging that the husband is not the biological parent. Situations like this can get extremely complicated though as the Court generally will not release a husband from being responsible for the child unless there is someone else to step up to the plate. A Worcester attorney with experience in paternity cases can assist a parent in completing and filing the necessary forms. This type of situation is much more common than one would think, so if you find yourself in this situation, it’s not completely unusual. We have represented a number of mothers and fathers who have found themselves in such situations.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Both parents and the child can benefit from legally establishing the father’s identity. The legal father has the right to build and have a relationship with the child. The child has a right to have that same relationship and for financial support from his or her father.
Once paternity is established, the child has a right to inherit from his or her father or to potentially collect social security or disability benefits through him. More importantly, it’s important for any child to be able to have access to and understand their biological parents’ medical history. Given the significant benefits to all parties involved, the counsel of a Westborough attorney experienced in paternity matters could be invaluable.
Speak with a Worcester Paternity Attorney Today
Identifying the legal father early in a child’s life improves the chance for a meaningful father-child relationship. It also solidifies the father’s obligations to the child and allows the mother to share the financial and parenting responsibilities. Establishing paternity in Massachusetts can be complicated. Just as it is essential to identify a child’s legal father correctly, it is equally important to rule out a man who is not the biological father.
If you are a mother seeking to establish paternity or an alleged father served with a notice to take a DNA test, one of our lawyers can help.
Very sensitive, responsive, attentive, and professional.- David
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I highly recommend this family law firm and wouldn’t want anyone else representing me in this tough time in my life!- Former Client
I am forever grateful for the team's incredible efforts to make my stepdaughter's dream of having "a normal life" with her dad come true.- Lauren
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