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What Maryland law has to say about establishing paternity

While the birth of a child is a time for great joy and celebration, it can sometimes prove to be perplexing for the parties involved if questions remain about the how, when and why of establishing paternity.

The good news is that this is actually a fairly straightforward area of the law. Indeed, in today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at the process of establishing paternity here in Maryland.

Paternity in general

Under state law, paternity can be established either via court order or through the filing of a legally binding document known as the Affidavit of Parentage form.

The Affidavit of Parentage form can be signed by a father immediately after the birth, while the baby and mother are still in the hospital. By signing the document, the father ensures his name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate and that the child will derive some very important benefits.

It’s important for those presented with this document to remember that it is legally binding and, as such, they should exercise their right to consult with an attorney if they have any lingering doubts or unanswered questions.

Regarding the aforementioned court order establishing paternity, this typically results in those cases where there is still some uncertainty as to the identity of the father– even after genetic testing is completed. Here, the court will ultimately hold a hearing to decide the matter once and for all.

Advantages of paternity

Some of the very important benefits derived from establishing paternity include:

  • Child support eligibility.
  • Social Security, veteran’s benefits, inheritance, life insurance and health insurance eligibility for the child.
  • Access to a complete family medical history.

Whether you are a mother seeking to establish paternity or a father contesting paternity, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.

Source: Maryland Department of Human Resources, “Paternity establishment,” Accessed Dec. 12, 2014

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