Paternity is a very important family law matter that could affect a range of issues, such as child support. Both mothers and fathers, as well as children, benefit from establishing paternity for several reasons, and we will discuss why and how you should establish paternity in Utah.
Why Establish Paternity?
Your Child May Receive Important Paternal Benefits
Children are eligible for certain benefits from both their parents. One reason for establishing paternity is that your child might be able to receive benefits from their legal father like:
- veteran’s benefits;
- Social Security benefits;
- life insurance benefits;
- medical insurance from the father’s side;
Establishing paternity is also important for child support cases, as a parent has a child support obligation only if they are the legal parent of the child. If the father is not legally established as the parent, they do not have the legal obligation and parental right to provide financial support to their child. Once they have established paternity, the mother can share the costs of raising their child by seeking court-ordered child support. This is a common reason for establishing paternity from the mother’s and child’s perspectives.
Your Child Can Benefit Emotionally From Knowing Their Father
Another reason for establishing paternity is more emotional. Establishing paternity can help your child maintain a relationship with both parents and grants the father the parental right to request custody and visitation if they had previously been denied seeing their child. Once they are the legal parent of the child, the court may grant the legal father parenting time (if appropriate and in the best interests of the child). So, establishing paternity may benefit the father by allowing them to build a father-child bond.
By knowing the father, too, your child can learn about important parental things, such as the father’s medical history that may affect them. This is an important and often underrated aspect of establishing paternity from a medical perspective.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Establishment of Paternity
Naturally, establishing paternity may be a straightforward process for cooperative parents or a complex process for an elusive father. In the former situation, the father merely needs to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. For unmarried parents, this is often done in the hospital when the child is born and must be signed by both parents in the presence of two unrelated witnesses.
The latter situation of involuntary establishment can either occur through a judicial proceeding in court or through an administrative proceeding by the Office of Recovery Services. In a judicial proceeding, the court may order DNA or genetic testing if the mother or father denies or is uncertain of paternity. The Office of Recovery Services process does not involve the court and will instead be carried out through an administrative proceeding and similarly require a DNA test. Learn more about establishing paternity on our page here.
As explained above, there are many important reasons to establish paternity that may benefit the child, the mother, and the father. You need to establish paternity if you wish to take legal action relating to the parent’s relationship with the child, such as requesting child support or child custody.