Establishing Paternity in Maryland
Paternity is important, and establishing paternity is relatively straightforward in Maryland. If you need to prove the paternity of a father, or if you’re a father seeking to prove your paternity over a minor child, you should seek the assistance of an experienced paternity lawyer in Maryland.
What is Paternity?
The term paternity refers to the legal status of a person as the father of a child. It should not be confused with biological paternity, as there are several ways a person can be presumed legally responsible as a father without actually having a biological connection. Therefore, it’s important to remember that ‘paternity’ is a legal term, not a medical one.
How is Paternity Established?
There are generally two ways to establish paternity. The first is an affidavit of parentage. This is a document that the parents sign at the child’s birth. This document gives a legal presumption of paternity.
The second way to establish paternity is through a court proceeding known as a paternity case. A paternity case is brought by a petition, which seeks to have a court determine the legal status of a father. This can be initiated at any time before the child turns 18 (21 in the case of a mentally incapacitated individual). Likewise, it can be brought during pregnancy.
Affidavit of Parentage
Once an affidavit is signed, it can be rescinded up to 60 days from the date on which the last person signed it. After that, it requires a court determination to rescind. Therefore, people are cautioned not to sign an affidavit of parentage if they suspect the child has a different father.
Situations Involving Married Couples
Keep in mind that a man who is married to the mother of a child is presumed to be the father of the child unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. Thus, if a child is born to a married couple and the husband suspects infidelity, there is still a legal connection of paternity unless or until the man chooses to file a paternity action. This can be a painful and sensitive situation. For instance, if the couple have divorced, the man is still presumed the father and may be required to pay child support, even though it is clear the child was not his. This underscores the importance of having a paternity proceeding as soon as a suspicion is raised.
Why is Paternity Important
Paternity affects many things, like:
- Child support
- Inheritance rights
- Medical care and hereditary issues
- Public benefits determinations (VA, Social Security, Disability, etc.)
- Much more
Likewise, most people would rather know if a child is actually theirs. However, there are situations where it may not be important. For instance, there are plenty of men who raise children who are not biologically theirs. However, in general this should be a choice not a default.
Getting Help With Your Paternity Case
If you are a mother seeking to establish paternity of the father of your child, or if you are a father seeking to establish your paternity of your child, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. today to schedule a private consultation to discuss your case. Do not attempt to handle your own paternity case, as there are many ways that you can make small but costly errors in the process.