It might seem logical that paternity is automatically established when a child is born. However, it must be officially established, whether a Tennessee father is seeking to protect his parental rights, or a mother is seeking to ensure financial support for the child. When paternity is established, it can provide benefits for each parent and the child.
The importance of paternity in relation to parental rights
Establishing paternity is the only way a father can protect his parental rights and assert his custody and visitation rights to his child. It also allows a father to oppose the child’s mother in case she decides to give the child up for adoption. This, however, also comes with responsibilities for the father, including financial support of the child. Even if paternity is involuntarily established, the father would still be required to provide financial support and could face legal consequences for refusing to do so. For some, establishing paternity also opens the door for a close bond between the father and the child.
Paternity can be established in several ways, depending on the relationship between the parents and the family situation. Some of these ways include:
• The child is born after the parents are married
• The parents get married after the child’s birth and the father signs a document that acknowledges his paternity
• The parents continue to be unmarried but the father declares his paternity and agrees to financially support the child
• The mother or the state brings a suit against the father to establish paternity and seek child support
It is important to establish paternity as early as possible, both to protect the father’s parental rights and to ensure that the child’s needs are met. When paternity is not established early, there might be undesirable consequences for all involved.