Establishing paternity refers to the process of determining the legal father of a child. A child has no legal father if born to parents who are not married. In such cases, the biological father has no rights and responsibilities to the child. The biological father becomes the legal father through the establishment of paternity.
The signing of the child’s birth certificate voluntarily by both parents will acknowledge the child’s paternity. Additionally, the child has the right to know equally the mother and the father since it is not all about getting the monthly child support.
Where the mother is not married to the child’s father, the father is compelled to provide a Declaration of Paternity or Acknowledgement of Paternity so that his name is incorporated in the birth certificate. In the case where the father is present at the time of childbirth, there is no reason why his name should not be included in the birth certificate. Remember that changes made to the birth certificate do not happen instantly. It takes time for changes to be effected in the records.
If the father was not present during childbirth, the affidavit of paternity should be completed before the child attains the age of 18 years. The affidavit is prepared by a lawyer and should be notarized. Both parties – the mother and the father – must append their signatures on the affidavit.
The other way to establish paternity is through a paternity test. Medical DNA provides genetic testing which is a foolproof way of identifying the legal father of the child. DNA testing is carried out upon the direction of a paternity court where the biological father refuses to acknowledge paternity. The ruling or direction of the court will ensue once the paternity is determined. The cost of DNA testing is covered by the father after paternity is determined and it is deemed that the father is able to pay.
Importance of Establishing Paternity
- To provide financial assistance to the child or child support – both parents are mandated by law to provide financial assistance towards the upbringing of their children. Establishing paternity compels the father to provide the assistance. There is a limit after which financial assistance is no longer required which in most cases is 18 years of age.
- Allows the child to be included in information about the family’s medical history. It offers the opportunity to learn about potential genetic problems that may be inherited from the father. Such information becomes critical in the management of medical conditions such as organ transplants.
- Determining paternity confers citizenship to the child. Other benefits include social security, insurance, and even inheritance rights.
Both the mother and father share equal custody rights once paternity has been established. The mother or father who has custody of the child at the acknowledgment of paternity is filed will have the lawful custody of the child. However, the non-custodial parent will always have the right to travel and have custody of the child as stipulated by the court.
Medical DNA in Ottawa helps in the establishment of paternity and ensuring that children enjoy the right to having a relationship with both parents. Children build their identity from a sense of belonging nurtured in the family setting.