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What is paternity and why does it matter?

| Jan 13, 2021 | Family Law |

Paternity is the establishment of a man as a child’s biological father. It is an important connection to make in order to allow both the man and child to experience legal benefits from their relationship. This post will generally discuss paternity in the context of family law. Readers are reminded that no part of this post should be used as specific legal advice and Nebraska attorneys can be consulted for case-specific help.

How is paternity established?

When a baby is born, its mother is generally an obvious party due to her participation in the child’s labor and delivery. However, the child’s father may be more of a mystery if the mother is not married or chooses not to disclose his identity on the child’s birth certificate. Paternity testing closes this loop in information through genetic testing.

Genetic testing involves comparing the genetic material of the presumptive father to that of the child. A match indicates paternity and the establishment of a father-child relationship. Having a legally recognized biological relationship avails children and fathers to rights under the law.

Why does paternity matter for family law?

There are many reasons that paternity matters for family law proceedings. For example, child support is often an arena where paternity is important because a man will generally not be held responsible for providing it unless he is actually a child’s father. Paternity testing can be used to confirm or refute claims of parentage for child support purposes.

Additionally, paternity can help a child establish beneficiary status if their father passes away. Pending estate planning documents that alter beneficiary claims, children are often able to inherit from the end-of-life estates of their parents and without a confirmation of paternity, a child may not be included in this capacity.

Starting the paternity process can be confusing and emotionally draining. There is no reason that a party must approach it on their own. A Nebraska-based family law attorney can be a great asset for a person hoping to work through a challenging paternity case.