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Establishing paternity can benefit your Maryland family

Every child in Maryland has the right to know who their parents are, and to receive the love and emotional support of both of those parents. Not only are mothers allowed the right to receive child support from the father, fathers are also looking to receive fair rights in raising their children. Years ago, unwed fathers were overlooked when it came to being involved in the decision-making process regarding their child. Establishing paternity is a legal way to recognize the father and to give them the rights and responsibilities they deserve.

Affidavit of Parentage

If the father is present at the birth of the child, they simply need to sign the birth certificate form, as well as an Affidavit of Parentage, which acknowledges them as the father of the child. Keep in mind that signing the affidavit is voluntary; however, once you sign the legal form, you are named as the father and are held to the obligations and responsibilities that it entails. Parents are able to submit a rescission to the Affidavit of Parentage within sixty days of signing the original affidavit.

Under Maryland law, anyone who is asked to sign the affidavit has the right to obtain genetic testing in order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are, in fact, the father. Fathers who are under the age of eighteen do not need permission from a guardian before signing the legal document. Once the document is signed, it is then sent to the Division of Vital Records.

Locating a father

In a situation where the father is known but their whereabouts are unknown, the Office of Child Support Enforcement can help you to locate the individual in order to establish paternity. While some fathers are willing to acknowledge their association with the child, others may not. In those cases, genetic testing can be court-ordered.

Genetic testing

Genetic testing is quick and painless, as it involves a simple swab to collect tissue cells on the inside of the cheek. Each DNA profile is unique to the individual, and is composed of genes obtained from both the mother and father. After measuring the genetic alleles of the mother, father and child, paternity can be established with a 99.99 percent certainty.

Benefits of establishing paternity

There are several reasons to go through the process of verifying paternity, including the following:

  • Your child will be aware of their full medical history when both the mother and father are known. Illnesses and diseases that are hereditary may be easily diagnosed or prevented when the family history is known beforehand.
  • Your child may have certain rights to veteran’s benefits, life insurance, social security, health insurance and inheritance once their father is determined. By choosing to verify paternity, you are giving your child access to all of these benefits.
  • Establishing paternity allows your child to receive financial and emotional support from their father. While many mothers may want the child’s father out of the picture, it is much better if the child is able to have a relationship with their father. Child support also helps in raising the child and saving for his or her education.

Many children are able to feel emotionally fulfilled when they have knowledge of their father as well.

Partnering with a professional

Whether you are tracking down your child’s father in order to receive monetary support, or you are an unwed father grasping for the legal right to have a relationship with your child, a reputable family law attorney can help you through the process. Only an experienced Baltimore County attorney can understand the extensive Maryland laws regarding child custody, divorce and child support.