The traditional family pictures of years gone by have evolved, and sometimes couples have children outside of wedlock. In such families, the state does not make any presumption as to the child’s parentage, as is the case when married couples welcome children into their families. Therefore, unwed fathers must legally establish paternity for their children.
Taking the steps to legally establish paternity often has advantages for both children and their fathers.
Benefits for the kids
According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, establishing paternity has several potential positive effects for children born to unmarried parents. Completing this legal process gives kids access to the medical histories of both sides of their families, allowing them a more complete picture. Additionally, establishing paternity gives children the right to inherit from their fathers or fathers’ families, as well as to draw Social Security or other benefits should their dads become disabled or pass away.
Benefits for unwed dads
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, unmarried fathers gain several benefits from establishing paternity for their children. Prior to this step, unwed fathers typically do not have legal rights toward their children. For instance, they may not seek child custody or visitation until they have created this legal parent-child relationship. Going through this process, then, better helps fathers of children born outside of marriage to ensure they have the opportunity to build relationships with their kids and to play a role in their upbringing.
With few exceptions, children benefit from having relationships with both their parents. To ensure they remain an important part of their kids’ lives, unmarried fathers may pursue options such as establishing paternity in order to access their parental rights.