Establishing the paternity of a child is important in a number of areas of Maryland family law as well as in other areas of law, including wills and estates and rights to certain benefits. The economic consequences of establishing paternity can be very high for all parties involved (the mother, any children, and the putative father) and may go on for many years, including the entire time until a child reaches the age of 18 and beyond, so it is essential to have a knowledgeable and experienced Maryland family law lawyer with courtroom experience looking out for your interests through the process of establishing (or challenging) paternity in Maryland.
Establishing Paternity in Maryland
A person can be established as the father of a child simply by signing an affidavit that then must be filed with the court. This may be done at any time up until the 18th birthday of the child. Signing the affidavit, however, is a voluntary act, and a person cannot be compelled to sign it. Even if a person has signed the affidavit, there is a 60-day window in which the affidavit can be rescinded such that it cannot be used to establish paternity.
In cases where a voluntary affidavit cannot be obtained, the parties may need to go to court to decide the issue of paternity. This can involve court-ordered DNA testing (which may be requested by either the mother or the putative father) to determine whether a man is the father of a child. DNA testing is not definitive, however, and a judge may make the final determination regarding whether a man will be determined to be the father of a child.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity in Maryland
In Maryland, a father has a duty to support his children until the time they turn 18 years old, or longer in certain circumstances. The establishment of paternity is a necessary requirement before a Maryland family law court can order that a putative father be required to pay child support. Therefore, a mother seeking child support from a man to whom she was not married is well-advised to begin the process of establishing paternity as soon as possible, as delay may make establishment of paternity more difficult and may result in a delayed order of child support. Even where child support is not an issue, establishing paternity is important for a child to be able to receive a share of a father’s estate when the father dies with or without a will. Establishing paternity is also important for making sure a child is eligible for certain benefits that her or she may be entitled to through the father, including social security benefits, health care, and veterans’ benefits. Finally, establishing paternity can be important for gaining access to family health records which may be important for a child’s present and future medical treatment.
Help with Paternity Issues in Maryland
At Coover Law Firm, LLC, we are here to help you with issues involving the establishment of paternity and family law matters based on the establishment of paternity. We will guide you through the process of establishing paternity, whether you are seeking to establish a putative father’s paternity or another party is seeking to establish your paternity of a child that you may or may not have fathered. We will work with you to make sure that the process is fair and efficient, and that your interests are zealously represented in court. In Columbia, contact the Coover Law Firm, LLC for help regarding your paternity law issue.