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Why is it so important to establish paternity?

If you are an unmarried dad, you might not think that it is very important to establish paternity of your child. You informally acknowledged that you are the dad and are involved with the baby's mother, so what's the big deal?

It actually is a very big deal. Here's some good reasons why.

You might not be the dad

It's an all-too-common occurrence that a man bonds with a child, provides support for him or her and loves them dearly . . . only to find out much later that he has no biological ties whatsoever to the child. Understandably, this devastates dads and can inflict irreparable harm on the vulnerable child. It's better to know the truth from the outset than to be blindsided by it later.

Establishes rights as a father

You and the child's mother may get along swimmingly right now, but there are no guarantees that the union will always be sunshine and rainbows. If the relationship splinters and your child's mom moves on to another relationship, you won't have legal rights to custody or visitation.

To share in decisions involving the child

Maybe the baby's mom is a strong anti-vaxxer, while you acknowledge the risk of, and fear your child being exposed to, deadly-but-preventable childhood diseases. Without legal standing as the baby's father, you cannot challenge the mom's decision.

It preserves the child's right to inherit

Establishing paternity clears the way for your son or daughter to receive Social Security benefits up until age 18 should you die or become disabled. Also, he or she can inherit property after your death and qualify for medical coverage under your policies during your lifetime.

Provides child with familial medical background

Maybe heart attacks have claimed far too many lives in your family or you're a carrier of the sickle-cell gene. This is information to which your child should have access in order to make the most informed health decisions.

If you are an unmarried father who wants to formally acknowledge paternity, a Nebraska family law attorney can provide you with guidance and information.

Source: National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, "The Importance of Establishing Paternity," accessed March 09, 2018

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The Law Offices of James A. Adams, P.C., L.L.O.
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